The country (India) and the entire planet is going through once in a century crisis due to the pandemic. The citizens were looking forward to hope and solutions in the Union Budget presented by Hon’ble Finance Minister of India Mrs Nirmala Sitharaman.
Since I am no expert on the subject, I will just say the highlights that I liked and which went mostly under-reported elsewhere:
- 128. We will undertake a new initiative –National Language Translation Mission (NTLM). This will enable the wealth of governance-and-policy related knowledge on the Internet being made available in major Indian languages.
- For children with hearing impairments, the Government will work on standardization of Indian Sign language across the country, and develop National and State Curriculum materials for use by them.
- 125.An initiative is underway, in partnership with the United Arab Emirates (UAE), to benchmark skill qualifications, assessment, and certification, accompanied by the deployment of certified workforce. We also have a collaborative Training Inter Training Programme (TITP) between India and Japan to facilitate transfer of Japanese industrial and vocational skills, technique, and knowledge. We will take forward this initiative with many more countries.
- Procedural initiatives including: Exemption of filing of returns for citizens over 75 years who have an only pension and interest income; Limitation period of opening of cases reduced from 6 years to 3 years; Dispute resolution for small taxpayers (less than INR 10 Lakhs in dispute); Prefilling of Income tax returns with details from many data sources.
- Health spending increased by 137%, to over $30bn.
- A new Development Finance Institution (DFI), with a starting capital of $2.7bn, to help fund large-scale infrastructure projects.
India is a land of multiple languages, including my mother tongue “Tamil”, each of them having thousands of years of rich heritage and culture associated. Information and knowledge have to be provided in their mother tongue for progressive growth across the country. Steps taken however small towards that should be welcomed.
Similarly, India is producing a large number of engineers and doctors, but I feel is lacking in producing skilled professionals, trained workers, vocational courses and so on. The collaboration with a country like Japan is welcome in this regard, I am sure the Government will expand to include leaders like South Korea, Germany and others.
Lastly, I found nothing to complain in the budget, but I would’ve been happy to see (more) money transferred (direct/indirect) to the hands of the consumers. Budget deficit pegged already at 9.5% can go up a few more percentages, the world will not notice with the pandemic.