Will this Budget make any difference?
One of us to make the Sun rising
It’s the fate of over a billion
It’s the smile on faces of millions
Changing the shape of my country
Through the stroke of a pen
Hope, It’s the tune of the future
Every seed sown, brings greenery
Every penny spent, brings prosperity
Hope, It’s the heralding of a new era The beginning of the new chapter
Who will lobby for the common people?
Everyone is expecting something from Budget. Every day we find some or other industry representative putting a list of demands to the finance minister. Every industry and every sector wants special favour from the finance minister. Is there a person who is raising the issues of common people before the finance minister?
Can Budget Help?
Cuba may be a much smaller country in comparison to India in terms of GDP, but if you look at its expenditure on education as % of GDP, it is way ahead of India. It spends approximately 18% of GDP on education (this 18% is roughly four times that of India). If we look at Human Development Index, we find countries like Norway, Australia, and Switzerland far ahead than our country. Can’t we benchmark ourselves against these countries? Out of its annual budget, Norway spends 4.8% towards Military, 16.5% on Education and 18.5% on health care. Why are we lagging behind? Who can make the difference? How can we join the group of developed countries (developed in terms of human development index and not in terms of GDP)? The answer lies in budget. It is the budget that can make a difference in our lives and in the lives of our next generations. It is the budget, which sets the allocation of money for the cause of common people. We need to look at how much of the budget is going into human development. Even out of the budget allocation for education and other priority sectors, we have to look into the aspects like how much is going for primary education, and how much is being allocated for developmental projects.
Most of us think that we have scarcity of resources and we blame our resources for our poverty. However, it is not the scarcity of resources, but it is the irrational use of resources that must be blamed. As an example, I would like to mention here that when a new business school was being set up, a government allocated 300 acres of land for that business school (please note, it is not agriculture or industrial training institute, but it is a business school). Who can justify allocation of 300 Acres of land to a business school? This much of land itself will become a liability and additional resources will be required for managing this much of land (without any productive use). This type of irrational allocation of resources are not scarce, but quite frequent. There is now a talk of privatization of loss making public sector organisation. Why shouldn’t there be privatization of elite education particularly management and engineering education, which can now become self-reliant and self-financed? The resultant savings can be allocated to improve primary and secondary education.
Start Toilet to Start School
The entire country is today imbued in the Swachh Bharat Campaign. Every village is promoting “Nirmal Gram Yojna” and there is talk of building modern sanitation facility in every corner. However, in a great country, where social development is the top priority, sanitation is still the issue even in schools. There are many schools which don’t have sanitation facilities. There are government schools, which even today don’t have modern sanitation facilities. Can’t we expect the government to allocate budget for these essentials? Let’s all raise our voice for toilets in every school.
Nation above Political Parties
When a political party comes to power, it brings its own programmes, which remain for five years and disappear when another party comes to power. We need campaigns which are beyond political ideologies. Take “Sanitation Campaign” of Mr. Ishwar Bhai Patel or “Sulabh International” started by Dr. Bindeshwar Pathak. Mr. Ishwar Bhai Patel would personally train each scavenger and encourage people to start using modern sanitation systems. He devoted his life for the cause of sanitation. Dr. Bindeshwar Pathak introduced self-sustaining “Sulabh Sauchalay” all over the country. These campaigns are the campaigns which need support from the government also. Rather than political ideology based campaigns, we need support for such campaigns from the governments. We have witnessed great leaders and social entrepreneurs in our country, who have sacrificed their lives for the cause of the nation. Let's put them above narrow political interests.
Private sector has today introduced services in the format of 24X7X365 while most of the essential services are still under government domains. Most of the government departments have pending issues, and therefore, there needs to be improved delivery of services. Former Chief Justice of Supreme Court was quoted when he said that the courts should not have any holidays to ensure that there is no pending case. When will the budget bring a provision for this? Can someone take the hopes and aspirations of common people to the finance minister, piercing through the long bureaucratic jungles?
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Any facts, figures or references stated here are made by the author & don't reflect the endorsement of iU at all times unless otherwise drafted by official staff at iU. This article was first published here on 22nd February 2015.