With the inflation soaring high, the economy recovering rapidly from the covid setback, a necessity to address India’s fiscal deficit and the weighing issue of unemployment, the populace of this country waited in eagerness as the Finance Minister of India, Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman read out the Financial Budget for the year 2023-24. The budget for the upcoming year will prioritise seven areas, referred to by the term, Saptarishi - inclusive development, reaching the last mile, infrastructure and investment, unleashing the potential, green growth, youth power and financial sector.
The financial budget is a document that answers three questions - what will be the income, what will be the expenditure and lastly, what are the areas that will be on focus for the next financial year in terms of development. Before the presentation of the budget, the customary annual economic survey was released, which detailed the previous year's spending, income, areas of development and the relevant figures such as GDP, debt, deficit, inflation and foreign trade.
In terms of announcements and achievements, the FM reported that a total of Rs. 126 Lakh crores of digital payment had taken place through UPI (Unified Payments Interface) indicating India's growth in the digital space; 9.6 crore LPG connections were installed; 220 crore vaccinations given; an additional Rs. 47.8 crore worth Jan Dhan bank accounts have been opened; and 11.7 crore toilets constructed under the Swacch Bharat Abhiyan amongst many others.
The most significant portion of relevance of the Budget this year was the tax relief to the families of the middle class. Families with income of less than Rs. 7 lakhs per annum are exempted from tax, a revision from the previous Rs. 5 lakhs threshold. Another major issue requiring much attention was India’s Fiscal Deficit (difference between government earning and spending). The FM has estimated it to be 5.9% of the GDP for the upcoming year and aimed to bring it down to 4.5% by 2050.
The budget gave immense importance to skill enhancement and an attempt to improve employment and job opportunities. The FM pointed out that the Centre will be recruiting around 38,800 teachers for the newly built Eklavya Model School for 3.5 lakh tribal students and the building of 157 nursing colleges along with 157 medical colleges. The PM Kaushal Vikas Yojana 4.0 will be launched that will aim at producing knowledge and training in areas of coding, AI, drones and other soft skills. 30 new Skill India International Centres will be launched to train Indian youth in various skills required to cater to International Opportunities. iGOT Karmayogi will be launched to enhance learning and skill learning for the Government Employees. The Centre will also be launching a National Digital Library for Children and Adolescents aimed at providing access to digital books to all through the website. There will also be a launch of Bharat Shared Repository of Inscriptions which will aim at translation and digitalization of around one lakh ancient inscriptions in the form of a digital museum in its first stage.
India having reached its landmark achievement of becoming the fifth largest economy of the world, from its tenth position nine years ago, the budget was expected to bring about significant developments and address the issues of the Indian Economy. The budget also pointed out many reforms in the field of agriculture–such as loans for the farmers, production of high quality farm produce and in terms of bringing more organic and natural plantations. Sub-scheme under PM Matsya Sampadha Yojana to improve the quality lifestyle and work of the fishing community has been introduced. The budget also aims at pushing India further as a ‘Greener Country for a Greener Planet’. The FM has announced that India will become net zero carbon emissions by 2070. The Prime Minister had given the term ‘LiFE’–Lifestyle For Environment. There was also focus on the prevention of sickle cell anaemia, an issue which has been plaguing India in recent times.
The budget is one of the most significant documents for any country. It truly depicts the progress, developments, intentions and motives of the country. Not just India but the players of the global economy pay immense attention to the details of the Budget to ascertain India's upcoming positioning in the world economy. This year's budget has set the momentum for Amritkaal, i.e., the time until the 100th year of India's independence. It aims to put every Indian first and also, on the global stage, India first.