14 Feb 2018 19:46 IST

Students make pertinent points at BusinessLine event in New Delhi

Railways and Coal Minister Piyush Goyal speaking at Budget Talk, presented by BusinessLine and SASTRA Deemed University, and powered by FICCI bloncampus

B-schoolers query Railway Minister Piyush Goyal on range of issues from health insurance to AI to jobs

They may be in their early 20s, but they all have dreams of getting a good job or starting their own business. Over 150 management students thronged the FICCI auditorium on Monday evening, braving the winter chill to hear what Railways and Coal Minister Piyush Goyal had to say about the Union Budget.

Delighted to see young people turn up in such large numbers to discuss a serious topic like the Budget, Goyal, who was introduced as part of the BJP’s ‘young brigade’, couldn’t resist saying that “they (the students) were truly the young Indians with aspiration…”

B-school brigade

The students from business schools spread across the national capital area — BIMTECH, Amity Business School, Jamia Hamdard Business School, Maharaja Surajmal Institute of Management. YMCA Institute of Management, Fore School of Management, as well as the elite Sriram College of Commerce, Delhi University — made full use of the opportunity offered by the Budget Talk, presented by BusinessLine and SASTRA Deemed University, and powered by FICCI.

Impressed by the crowd and the enthusiasm, and having been told they were students of institutions that had subscribed to BusinessLine on Campus, BL’s web resource for B-schoolers and MBA aspirants, the Minister expressed surprise, saying: “It’s great to know that you pay a subscription to be part of the digital world — BL on Campus — that BusinessLine is promoting. I thought it’s only free things that matter as paying for something is becoming old-fashioned nowadays."

Intelligent discussions

The students shared their thoughts on various issues, ranging from the impact of artificial intelligence (AI) on India’s job market to what the Budget had in store for the common man. However, it was the introduction of National Health Protection Scheme, which was widely discussed, that came in for a lot of praise from the students.

“Poor people cannot afford quality healthcare, and this is a very good move as many living in the rural areas have no access to hospitals or insurance”, said Madiha, an MBA student from Jamia Hamdard.

Another B-schooler, D Ramesh Kumar, said: “Announcement of various social welfare schemes, including health insurance, is surely a welcome step”.

The Budget aims at providing healthcare coverage to approximately 50 crore beneficiaries, providing them insurance of up to ₹5 lakh per family per year.

Finance, taxation

Shaktikanta Das, Member, 15th Finance Commission and G-20 Sherpa, was sought out by the students after he had given his keynote address, and they wanted to know the source of the numbers which the government works on.

When the floor was opened for questions, interesting queries were addressed to Sanjeev Sanyal, Principal Economic Adviser to the Ministry of Finance on the Insolvency Code as well as Long-term Capital Gains Tax. The pointed questions made Sanyal often comment “very good question.”

A student asked Sanyal about rationalising the tax structure as India is probably the only country where equity investors pay a security transaction tax (LTCG and dividend tax). Sanyal responded, “It certainly is an issue that has been raised. Let us view it from another perspective. We do tax other kinds of capital returns so there was also a case for taxing the returns on equity transactions, and returns made on growth of price and not from dividend growth. So, there was a case for doing something to tax that. We recognised that many people have invested historically not based on this, so we grandfathered it.”

He said it’s only fair that those who are earning returns or wealth from their source may pay the tax. “Now, we have introduced capital gains tax and we have transactional tax. We will give it some time and see how it goes.”

Employment scene

Many students also talked about the employment scenario in the country and if this year’s Budget was able to focus on factors that can accelerate job growth.

“There has been a dearth of job opportunities for the past few years but, with the importance given to the AI in this Budget, there is hope that things will improve, though more is needed in this segment”, said Priyanka Agarwal, MBA student from Jamia Hamdard.

That AI will bring in more job opportunities is a realistic expectation; however, it is recognised that it will also take away the jobs of many. Concerned about this, the students thought that the government should also come up with more employment opportunities. “The emergence of AI will also lead to a downtrend in job opportunities. Therefore steps should be taken towards creating skilled employment and not just focusing on AI," said Deepika Jain, who is pursuing PGDM( Finance) from Greater Noida-based BIMTECH.

Entrepreneurs

Expressing his views, the Executive Chairman of Great Eastern Energy Corporation Ltd and past President FICCI, YK Modi, said there is a need to promote entrepreneurs in the country. Modi said the government should not stigmatise entrepreneurs. “We need another Google or Apple to come out of India”.

He added that, till now, the government focus has been to protect those who already have a job, this discourages new hiring. However, the fixed term contract mentioned in the Budget is a positive step.

Meanwhile, some also felt that this year’s Budget had nothing for the middle-class. Aishwaraya Veervani, management student from BIMTECH, said: “The Budget had not much for middle-class, whether the salaried or business-persons. The levy of new taxes does not matter for rich businessmen but for the middle-class it will lead to overall increases in costs.

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