What is the takeaway from the Budget?
It’s a pro-poor, pro-youth Budget. The main focus is to revive rural economy, create jobs and improve rural and urban infrastructure. The finance minister has announced special initiatives for skill development and job creation. The focus is also on ease of doing business, incentivising them.
How has the focus shifted to the rural sector?
I come from a rural background. The youth today want employment and self-employment opportunities. Schemes like ‘Start Up, Stand Up India’ will help them to become entrepreneurs, develop skills for employment and self-employment, and further enhance the rural economy. The commitment to double the income of farmers will increase the youth’s interest in the farm sector… Special attention has been given to rural road sector too.
BJP leaders have praised the initiatives announced in the public transport system. How will these help?
The initiatives will create entrepreneurship in the public transport system. Like the Finance Minister said, this is an unreformed sector which poses several hurdles for doing business. Once the scheme is implemented, entrepreneurs will be able to operate buses on various routes if they comply with the efficiency and safety norms. A fleet of new public transport vehicles will not only improve efficiency but also open up job opportunities.
At a time when the government is facing criticism on Dalit issues, does the Budget offer anything to the weaker sections?
The ‘Stand Up India’ scheme is going to strengthen and empower them. With the celebration of B R Ambedkar’s 125th birth anniversary, a number of initiatives have been announced which would make it a year of economic empowerment for SC/ST entrepreneurs. These are not just announcements, but programmes to support them financially.
Some in the BJP are of the view that the market crash in the first few hours after the Budget is an indication that it’s a Budget for the poor.
One must not forget that the larger population is in the rural areas. Once their spending power is increased, it will trigger growth. When a farmer earns, he spends it on buying commodities like clothes and edibles. This will help the economy to grow.