Millennium Post

Promoting aspirational India, economic development & humane society

Its was the second time, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman tabled the Union Budget 2020-21, which was further segregated into three prominent themes -- Aspirational India for better standards of living with access to health, education and better jobs for all sections of the society, Economic Development for all --- "Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas, Sabka Vishwas" and Caring Society --- both humane and compassionate; Antyodaya as an article of faith. These broad themes were based on a corruption free, policy-driven good governance and a prosperous and sound financial sector.

Under Aspirational India, agriculture and irrigation, wellness, water, sanitation and education have been covered. A 16-point action plan for the farmers has been laid towards the goal of doubling farmers' income by 2022. Rs 2.83 lakh crore allocated for various activities of agriculture, irrigation and rural development.

To promote coastal community development (fishermen), Marine Fisher Resources will be developed and introduction of new concept of 'Sagar Mitra' and 500 Fish Producer Organisation will be strengthened under blue economy.

The Finance Minister has allocated Rs 69,000 crore for overall healthcare sector, out of which Rs 6,400 crore allocated for PM Jan Arogya Yojana (PMJAY). More than 20,000 hospitals are already empanelled under PMJAY. Viability gap funding window has been proposed for setting up hospitals in the PPP mode.

The Jan Aushadhi Kendra Scheme will be expanded to various districts, offering 2,000 medicines and 300 surgicals in all districts by 2024. These initiatives will commit to end tuberculosis by 2025.

An amount of Rs 3.60 lakh crore and Rs 12,300 crore has been allocated for Jal Jeevan Mission and Swachh Bharat Mission respectively in regards to water and sanitation. To enhance the nation's education and skills, Rs 99,300 crore for education and Rs 3,000 crore for skill development have been allotted.

The economic development steps will give a boost to industry, commerce, investment, infrastructure and connectivity.

For the development and promotion of industry and commerce, Rs 27,300 crore allocated and over the next 5 years, Rs 100 lakh to be invested on infrastructure. Schemes and measures have been taken in regards with the nation's highways, railways and airports. Shipping, port and waterways have been a highlight in the Union Budget 2020.

Besides the announcement of 5 iconic museums --- Rakhighadi (Haryana), Hastinapur (Uttar Pradesh), Sivasagar (Assam), Dholavira (Gujarat), Adichanallur (Tamil Nadu) --- a separate museum displaying the maritime heritage to be set up in Lothal (Ahmedabad). The major boost received in last 5 years in inland waterways was highlighted and completion of Jal Vikas Marg on National Waterway 1 and 890 KM Dhubri - Sadiya stretch on National Waterway 2 will be utmost priority.

Announcement of various economic activities along the river banks will be executed as per Prime Minister's Arth Ganga concept and corporatising of atleast one major port, listing on stock exchanges will be considered. The governance framework will be carried with more efficiency keeping with global benchmarks.

The Caring Society, in the Budget 2020, focused mainly on women and child, social welfare and culture and tourism. Allocation of Rs 35,600 crore for nutrition-related programmes have been proposed for FY 2020-21 which would take care of the welfare of the women, girl child, Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.

A special allotment of Rs 9,500 crore has been reserved for senior citizens and divyangs. Allocation of Rs 2,500 crore and Rs 3,150 crore has been proposed for tourism promotion and Ministry of Culture, respectively. This would ensure the curation of museums and archeological sites.

Budget 2020 has been a relief to the taxpayers as various income tax deductions and exemptions have been removed. The no-tax limit has been increased to Rs 5 lakh from Rs 2.5 lakh. The tax slabs has also been revised that will sure to benefit the wage earners.

All in all, Budget 2020 encompassed various aspects of health and wellness, environment and climate change, financial sector, taxation and fiscal policies, focusing on the hopes and aspiration of nation's economy.

(The writer is Minister of State (I/C) for Shipping and Chemical & Fertilizers)

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