A Perfect Roti, Kapda And Kisan Budget
With this kisan focused Budget, the government has reiterated its promise of doubling the farmers’ income by 2022
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Finance Minister Arun Jaitley’s last pre-poll Budget was one of the most keenly awaited events in recent times. Almost everyone on the streets expected huge sops, fiscal stimulus and even Income-Tax cuts, moves that were seen as big pull factors in an election year. The hopes of the middle class may have been dashed, with no cuts in I-T, but Jaitley has gone all out to empower the hinterland with a series of measures that will go a long way in improving the quality of life in rural India.
‘Mera Gaon, Mera Desh’, in fact, seems to be the underlying theme of this year’s Union Budget. With his various measures, he seems to have taken a big leap forward in addressing issues of roti, kapda and kisaan. It is certainly good for the agriculture sector, particularly those at the bottom of the pyramid. The FM had the dual task of reflecting the government’s intent of promoting rural growth with job creation and taking forward its various social measures and initiatives like Swachh Bharat, Digital India and Make in India.
The single biggest positive of this year’s Budget is its kisaan focus. With this Budget, the government has reiterated its promise of doubling the farmers’ income by 2022. Be it the 150 per cent increase in MSP for crops or the support to organic farming, doubling the expenditure allocation to Rs 1,400 crores for the food processing sector or liberalisation of agricultural exports, allocation of Rs 10,000 crore to fisheries, animal husbandries and related infrastructure or ensuring farmers better access to formal mandis, this Budget has ticked all the right boxes when it comes to improving the lives of people in our villages.
These measures will not only boost consumerism in the hinterland but also go a long way to create new jobs. The past few quarters have seen rural demand grow ahead of urban India, and these measures will only add fuel to this growth rate. At Dabur, we have been investing in expanding our rural footprint and strengthening our rural distribution muscle to take advantage of this demand growth. We will see this initiative gather pace, going forward.
The Budgetary allocation for cultivation of specialised medicinal and aromatic plants (MAPs) is another big positive and will help promote India’s Ayurvedic heritage. This is perhaps, for the first time that special attention has been given to this sector. Herbs are at the heart of Ayurvedic medication and over 15,000 herbs have been mentioned in the Ayurvedic scriptures, of which only around 850 are commonly used in Ayurvedic medicines today. With a number of these wild herbs staring at extinction due to over-usage, Dabur – as the pioneer in Ayurvedic products – has taken the lead in preserving and growing this herbal wealth. Such initiatives would now be more widespread with this special focus on MAPs.
The other big positive this year is the government’s continued focus on improving infrastructure and healthcare. The mega health insurance programme for the poor is clearly path-breaking for the sheer size, coverage and the amount committed per family. That is the first step in India towards achieving universal healthcare.
It has successfully laid down the blueprint for creating an enabling framework that would promote growth with a focus on job creation. I am confident that this Budget will go a long way in not just strengthening the rural economy but also improving the quality of life in rural India.
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