Education and Employment Drew Blanks in the Interim Budget -Kiran Bhatty
The new vision wants youth to figure out education and skills on their own but still expects them to be the drivers of economic progress.
Piyush Goyal, presenting the interim budget, called it a road map for peoples’ development – a fitting description for an election year budget. Accordingly, it contained the expected sops to farmers (income support), to the middle class and home owners (increase in income tax and rental income thresholds) and to workers (social security in terms of health and pensions), as the big-ticket announcements.
The reining in of the fiscal deficit (3.3% to 3.4%) and the increase in tax collections – induced by both GST and demonetisation – were trumpeted as achievements and signaled perhaps the area where the money for the sops may come from. As agreed across commentators though, we will have to see the numbers to know exactly how that will work.
However, the star section of the speech was arguably the 10-dimensional vision statement for building a $10 trillion economy in the next ten years. It contained the expected thrust areas like digital India, rural industrialisation, pollution-free India, food self-sufficiency, health and minimum government. Developing a space programme and a transport revolution led by renewable energy were also thrown in to give it a modern forward-looking science and technology oriented spin.
Employment and education
But some critical areas were left out, among them jobs. Skirting around the issue (and the controversy recently created by the goings-on in the Statistical Commission), Goyal made no promises in that area. In fact, the only statement made in this regard, was to say that the “public sector and factories” are no longer the areas where employment can be expected to come from – instead self-employment led by the youth and start-ups were the new growth areas.
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