Updated: March 10, 2021 1:08:09 am
Five hundred high-mast Tricolours across Delhi, a curriculum on patriotism in schools, cultural events on the lives of Bhagat Singh and Babasaheb Ambedkar and yoga instructors in colony parks — “deshbhakti” was the “defining feature” of the Delhi government’s annual budget for 2021-22, presented on Tuesday.
For now, the government has set aside Rs 90 crore for these initiatives, which will be held not just in Delhi but across India, said Finance Minister Manish Sisodia in his Budget speech. Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said later that the Budget laid the “foundation” of a vision that will bring Delhi on a par with Singapore by 2047 in terms of per capita income.
Terming the Tricolour as the “greatest symbol of our individual identity”, Sisodia said the high-mast flags, like the one in Connaught Place, will be installed in such a way that at least one is visible every two kilometres. “All citizens of Delhi, when coming out from their homes even for short distances, will not return without sentiments of patriotism and national pride,” Sisodia said. He said Rs 45 crore has been set aside in the Budget for the proposed flags.
The 207-ft-tall Tricolour at Connaught Place was installed by the Flag Foundation of India, former Congress MP and industrialist Naveen Jindal’s organisation, in 2014.
Sisodia proposed a Budget of Rs 69,000 crore for the upcoming year. Last year, he had presented a Rs 65,000 crore Budget, which came down to Rs 59,000 crore in the revised estimate.
Addressing a press conference later, Kejriwal said “deshbhakti is the defining feature of the Budget”. “Deshbhakti for a common man should be about pride in the nation, and civic duties in day-to-day lives. A person who violates traffic lights or indulges in bribery cannot be a deshbhakt. So we are trying to define deshbhakti in a way, like our deshbhakti curriculum stresses on civic duties and the value system to become a responsible citizen, a good human being. Deshbhakti is also respecting foreigners so that they return to their homeland carrying a good impression of India,” he said.
The government also earmarked Rs 25 crore for training and engaging yoga instructors across colonies “on demand”. Sisodia, in his speech, said meditation and yoga were developed in India after thousands of years of practice. “Even when there were no modern laboratories in the 16th Century world, our scientists and philosophers had done research on the depths of the science of mind and body, on the basis of self-realisation and introspection that is not possible to understand even in the most modern scientific laboratory today,” he said.
The initiatives under the ‘deshbhakti’ project, which will be kickstarted with a gala event on March 12, will be implemented over the next year, in the run-up to India’s 75th year of independence, the government said.
Rs 10 crore each has been set aside to hold events commemorating Bhagat Singh and Babasaheb Ambedkar — announcements that were greeted with chants of “Bharat Mata Ki Jai” by AAP MLAs in the House.
Sisodia said the government plans to collect Rs 43,000 crore tax to fund the proposed Budget expenditure. In his 2019-20 Budget, Sisodia had proposed to raise Rs 42,500 crore as tax revenue. However, the economic survey presented by him on Monday showed that the government could collect only Rs 36,565 crore, as compared to Rs 36,624 crore in 2018-19.
In the 2020-21 Budget, the government had proposed to collect Rs 44,100 crore as tax revenue. However, due to the pandemic, the collection is expected to remain around Rs 29,300 crore, leading to another negative growth year, according to the Budget document.
“The nationwide lockdown imposed due to the coronavirus pandemic caused an economic slowdown, the impact of which is a significant decrease in our tax revenue for the current financial year. Up to January 2021, the collection of tax revenue was approximately 40 per cent less than the Budget Estimates,” Sisodia said on Tuesday.
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