Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah on Wednesday announced a slew of populist measures for the Congress’s backward castes, Dalit and minorities vote base in his last full budget before the 2018 polls. He proposed free laptops for engineering and medical students, compensations for cattle and livestock deaths. Siddaramaiah announced an interest waiver on co-operative bank loans to women self-help groups, introduction of ‘namma canteens’ in Bengaluru on the lines of Tamil Nadu’s Amma canteens to provide subsidised food. He proposed a twice-weekly egg diet for anganwadi children. The schemes like eggs at anganwadi centres and compensation for cattle loss are directed at backward castes, Dalit and minority communities since these communities tend to use these facilities.
The chief minister announced construction of 300 post-matric hostels, Rs 2 lakh for backward castes students admitted to national institutes like the IITs. He promised training for backward castes students for competitive exams. For SCs and STs, he has announced Rs 3 lakh for widows in case they remarry. He offered Rs 2 lakh for SC/ST youth who marry within SC/ST inter sub-castes. He proposed special coaching in computers, English, mathematics and sciences for students at SC/ST hostels.
He announced 200 Moulana Azad Model Schools to replace closed Urdu schools for minorities. Preparatory training would be given to 1,000 unemployed candidates to join armed forces. Rs 2 lakh would be given to students securing admission to institutes such as IITs, while honorarium paid to imams would be increased from Rs 3,100 to Rs 4,000. The budget proposed to increase the quantity of free foodgrains provided under the Anna Bhagya scheme to people below the poverty line from five kg to seven kg per head. Agriculture loans up to Rs 3 lakh will remain interest free. Loans up to Rs 10 lakh will be provided at three per cent interest rate.
“Ours is an all inclusive, universal development model with a human face. To supplement this in my last four budgets, I have put forth before the people an extensive economic framework for social justice; one of the objectives of our Constitution,” said Siddaramaiah. “I have made an honest effort to extend and enhance the same in this budget.” He criticised the Centre’s demonetisation move. Siddaramaiah said the “cooperative sector that is so critical in servicing the farmers and the rural folk virtually came to stand still” because of demonetisation.