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BW Businessworld

Glass Half Full

We had done a pre-Budget issue, and as expected, we put the Budget on one of our covers, saying now it is the time to execute the $5-trillion vision plan.

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No power on earth can stop an idea whose time has come.
Manmohan Singh, quoting Victor Hugo, in his first Budget speech of 1991

There were huge expectations from the Narendra Modi government for its first full Budget in its second term. As an industry leader said, PM Modi had laid the ground for a welfare state in his first term, and was expected to undertake second-generation reforms in his second term.

Those who have tracked PM Modi say that he is not a big-bang reformer. Government votaries do cite demonetisation to argue that he can undertake big-bang measures, if required. However, Modi has been known to be an incremental reformer — one step at a time. Considering the mind-boggling diversity that we have, even baby steps towards reforms are welcome. 

This Union Budget was important for another reason. This was for the first time that a full-fledged woman Finance Minister, Nirmala Sitharaman, was at the helm. And she was someone who had risen through the ranks. And proved her mettle earlier in the commerce and defence ministries.

The overall reaction to the Union Budget has been mixed. The middle class feels its concerns should have been more pro-actively looked into. Industry has other concerns, including that of the vexed corporate taxes.

These constituencies feel that more could have been done for them.

It would be incorrect to say that this government doesn’t listen to outside voices. In a pre-Budget interaction organised at the Niti Aayog, three top industry captains were invited, and it’s learnt that the PMO asked various departments to see how their recommendations could be favourably considered.

The thrust on infrastructure in the Budget is welcome. The intent behind making India a $5-trillion economy is laudable. Now is the time to action the plan, and move ahead.

Yes, a lot more could have been done, when it comes to job generation, for instance. The government would, on the other hand, argue that in measures on MSMEs, attempts have been made to encourage job creation.

We had done a pre-Budget issue, and as expected, we put the Budget on one of our covers, saying now it is the time to execute the $5-trillion vision plan.

We also did an industry survey, and as results show, they would expect much more from the government. This package also has columns from industry leaders.

The first cover in this issue, however, is on defence.

Having done her time as defence minister, many expected that FM Sitharaman would give the defence sector a major push. The final outcome, however, showed that many were left asking for more.

In our fist cover story, we speak to global defence players on what else they need from the policymakers to make India part of their growth journey. We get voices from across the globe.

This issue of BW Businessworld has all other regular features and columns.

Do keep writing in your views.

Happy reading!

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editor's letter Union budget 2019-20