Updated: March 10, 2021 9:43:04 am
A budget presented under difficult circumstances, is what Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal termed the government’s 2021-22 presentation on Tuesday. The central theme of the budget is ‘Deshbhakti’, the Chief Minister said. While the focus remained on health and education, very few new schemes have been introduced.
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AAP government’s ‘Deshbhakti’ budget
The Delhi government, which has had an aggressive focus on education and health, this year said the theme of the budget is ‘deshbhakti’ or patriotism. This, finance minister Manish Sisodia said, will entail placing 500 national flags across the city, like the one in Connaught Place. Rs 45 crore have been set aside for this head. Additionally, Rs 10 crore each have been set aside for programmes and events on the lives and contribution of Bhagat Singh and BR Ambedkar.
In his budget speech, however, Sisodia made it clear that the theme of deshbhakti will not stay limited to these initiatives, along with the deskbhakti curriculum announced last year.
Initiatives such as starting a youth mentorship programme for underprivileged students, arranging free Yoga camps for small groups of people, starting a Delhi armed forces academy to prepare children for recruitment in the armed forces, and giving Rs 1 crore to families of police officials and defence personnel who die in the line of duty are all clubbed under this particular head.
The overall outlay for the head is at least Rs 98 crore.
Over the past year, AAP leaders have sought to redefine what patriotism is, especially after the central leadership has been termed anti-national on social media by members of opposition parties regularly. The focus on ‘deshbhakti’, especially in the backdrop of AAP announcing its intent to contest elections in at least six states, can be a powerful counter to the narrative being set by other parties, leaders feel.
Delhi Budget 2021: Specific schemes for women
Women have been one of the strongest support bases for AAP in Delhi and the Delhi government’s scheme to provide free bus rides for women was a boost for the party ahead of the 2020 assembly polls. According to the poll-eve survey conducted by Lokniti-CSDS, women were 11 percentage points more likely to have voted for AAP in these polls than men.
Tuesday’s budget made the proposal to start 100 Mahila Mohalla Clinics in the city. These clinics will cater specifically to women and “services of gynaecologist and related diagnostic tests” will be made available free of cost.
There will eventually be 280 such clinics in the city, Sisodia said.
Another entrant in this year’s budget is incubation centres for women. These will be started in 500 Anganwadi hubs and will promote self help groups. Arrangements for training to open micro-economic units will also be made.
Delhi Budget 2021: Vision 2047
A large part of Tuesday’s budget was dedicated to the “vision” the AAP government has for the city in the 100th year of Independence.
From increasing Delhi’s per capita income by 16 times for it to match that of Singapore’s, having only e-vehicles on the road, and creating infrastructure and a culture of sports and to finally bid for the 2048 Olympics are all part of this vision.
While this vision has been given a new name in this year’s budget, they flow from existing schemes and measures such as the E-Vehicle policy, establishment of the Delhi sports university and the city’s efforts in easing rules and ed tape in opening and starting new businesses.
Delhi government has remained on its tried and tested track of giving the highest allocation to education and health. While 24% (the highest) of the Rs 69,000 crore budget has been allocated to education, the allocation is 14% in health.
When it comes to allocation for schemes and programmes, however, transport has trumped every other department this year and has got 23% of the Rs 37,800 crore outlay. Education comes in at 20%, followed by health at 14%.
While the size of the budget is Rs 69,000 crore (budget estimates), 55% of this is meant for schemes and programmes, the rest meets government expenditures on heads such as salaries and administrative expenses.
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