25 Feb 2016 22:10 IST

The common man’s need for equity and economic stability

Jaitley has to assume a great deal of responsibility this time around

Amid a looming global slowdown, India has proven itself to be an attractive investment destination but the degree to which peoples’ sentiments actually translate into ground realities is largely dependent on the manner in which Arun Jaitley undertakes concrete reforms, namely, with respect to taxation and capital expenditure and whether he is able to maintain the growth orientation based on digitisation, entrepreneurship, skill development, and social security.

Start-up India

In the case of Start-up India (a scheme having immense potential to be more than just a mere political rhetoric), it is yet to be seen whether Jaitley can successfully implement a healthy tax regime since a lot of start-ups, barring a few high profile ventures, are bereft of large investments. In addition, the current ambiguity regarding the tax liabilities of an online workplace has to be tackled once and for all. While the Government should ensure that the GST sees the light of day, Jaitley should fulfil the two long standing demands of the salaried class; increasing the basic exemption limit and the limit of taxable income earned from a savings account.

Global oil prices

Due to various macroeconomic factors and a belligerent status quo in Middle East, oil prices are anticipated to rise in the near future. Thus, it would be advisable for Jaitley to incentivise the renewable energy sector, especially against the backdrop of the recently-concluded United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris. The agricultural sector has witnessed an overall drop in farm income which has, in turn, affected the two-wheeler and FMCG sectors. A crop insurance scheme in tandem with targeted drought-related loan waiving initiatives will aid farmers deal with the double whammy of a poor monsoon.

Women-specific policies

Time and again, Narendra Modi has emphasised women empowerment, and Jaitley needs to reflect this mindset by being aggressive on lucrative women-specific policies, thereby encouraging full participation of women in all spheres of life. The 100 Smart City scheme should have specific focus on women-friendly facilities and infrastructure, whereas various initiatives under the Digital India campaign need to adopt plans to digitally empower women right from the grassroot level.

Focus on healthcare

To ameliorate the abysmal public healthcare sector (which has a budget allocation of less than 1.5 per cent of the GDP) and provide healthcare to all at affordable prices, greater emphasis should be placed on insurance penetration, medical infrastructure and the role of public-private partnerships (PPP). The Make in India initiative can only be successful when the Indian workforce develops skills beyond the basics of reading and writing and incorporate the four Cs (critical thinking, communication, collaboration and creativity). Therefore, special funding should be given for curriculum modernisation, pedagogical innovations, and examination reforms.

In summation, India has long misconstrued robust governance as an outcome of complexity, rather than simplicity and rigid implementation. At a time when rightist ideologies are forcing an entire state to a standstill and leftist ideologies are indulging in the precarious game of fomentation, one is sanguine that the Budget disproves India’s detractors and paves the way towards holistic growth.

The writer is a PGDM student at XLRI, Jamshedpur.

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