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Inclusion And Sustainability – The Driving Forces Behind The Union Budget 2023
While it is extremely encouraging to see how the government, through the budget, has tried to gauge the pulse and focus on these values too, it remains to be seen whether the implementation of these initiatives will require additional care and efforts as teething issues may emerge on-ground upon rollout. However, it is a promising place to start from says Haigreve Khaitan, Partner, Khaitan & Co
A lot has been said about the ambitious and forward-looking themes of the Union Budget 2023. But the overarching focus on sustainability and inclusion forms the very heart of it, making its presence felt all through the budget document, even when not spelled out.
The budget speech began with the mention of “Amrit Kaal” – referring to the period until 2047 (100 years of independent India) which will be characterised by high growth – and “Saptarishi,” which formed the 7 key themes of the budget this year, comprising inclusive development, reaching the last mile, infrastructure and investment, unleashing the potential, green growth, youth power and financial sector. It was clear that the budget would focus on the values of inclusion and sustainability.
One of the biggest announcements has been the income tax relief to middle class taxpayers. This is a much-needed step to boost the morale and uplift a large section of India’s taxpayers, and a clear effort to help citizens increase their disposable income and spur domestic demand. Agriculture is another important area and several crucial announcements have been made to leverage technological innovation to help farmers grow their income exponentially. It is commendable to see the theme of inclusion present in many significant announcements.
The 33% increase in capital expenditure for infrastructure development is a welcome move. The urban infrastructure fund that is expected to be set up will not only encourage investment into this space, but also create jobs. This move that will ultimately work towards the larger goal of helping the citizens see visible fruits of India’s growth journey.
Special measures to uplift the tribal community have also been announced, another move borne out of prioritising inclusion. An outlay of INR 15,000 crore will be allocated to the newly announced Pradhan Mantri Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PVTG) Development Mission – aimed at supporting the tribal community with better access to safe housing, clean drinking water and sanitation, education, health and nutrition, road and telecom connectivity, and sustainable livelihood opportunities.
Financial inclusion is another key theme. With a sharp focus on technological innovation in the financial services and digital payments space, the government has announced setting up a National Financial Information Registry, a central repository of financial information to enable easy access to necessary documents and information to avail financial services. KYC processes are to be simplified further and the scope to DigiLocker in terms of which documents can be accessed is to be broadened. These measures are aimed at including as many Indian citizens as possible in the financial services growth story and enhancing penetration of these services to every corner of the country. For effective roll-out and implementation, it’s imperative to ensure that the digital infrastructure can stay abreast with the new initiatives and a high growth rate does not result in widening of inequalities.
New and emerging technologies are set to lead India into the future, and the government has outlined skilling programmes covering new age courses such as coding, artificial intelligence, robotics, mechatronics, the Internet of Things, 3D printing and drones. This will include India’s citizens in the journey and empower the youth to seize not just domestic but also international opportunities.
The emphasis on “green growth” as a priority is a key enabler to fulfil the sustainability commitment. From a boost to green hydrogen manufacturers to a significant outlay of INR 35000 crore towards energy transition, and a new green credit programme for companies, a slew of green initiatives have been announced to achieve an eco-friendly development path. These show India’s committment to its sustainable development goals and are likely to increase opportunities for domestic and global businesses. Environmental, social and governance themed funds are in the spotlight as well.
The effort to place inclusion and sustainability at the centre is evident in several other announcements as well. For example, the “Amrit Dharohar” scheme to conserve wetlands has a special focus on how local communities are at the forefront of conservation efforts; their unique values will be promoted through this scheme. Another example is the focus on increasing opportunities around lab grown diamonds as they are an environmentally friendly alternative to traditionally mined diamonds.
The world is moving towards a new era, one where diversity, sustainability, inclusion and empathy are at the front and centre of all we do. While it is extremely encouraging to see how the government, through the budget, has tried to gauge the pulse and focus on these values too, it remains to be seen whether the implementation of these initiatives will require additional care and efforts as teething issues may emerge on-ground upon rollout. However, it is a promising place to start from.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house
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