`Union budget is more for corporates and not pro-people’

Speakers at the discussion on Union Budget 2013-14 organised by the VIT Business School of the VIT University here on Sunday stressed the urgent need for increasing the budgetary allocation for education to at least 6 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

Presiding over the discussion, G. Viswanathan, VIT Chancellor, said that despite the fact that India has more than 35,000 colleges and 600 universities, higher education has always been in scarcity in the country. India has only six lakh doctors as against the requirement of 12 lakh, and only 12 lakh nurses as against the requirement of 36 lakh.

There were only 45,000 undergraduate medical seats in the Central, State government and private medical colleges in the country as against five lakh aspirants for medical education.

The VIT Chancellor said that the political parties instead of pitching for the slogan that ‘reservation is the birthright of some categories of people’ should switch to the slogan, ‘higher education is the birthright of everyone’ which would pave the way for a situation wherein everyone aspiring for higher education would get a seat in college.

Era Sezhiyan, former MP, said that right from the Kothari Commission in the 1960s, several education commissions have been demanding enhancement of the budgetary allocation to education to six per cent of GDP, but the allocation continues to remain less than four per cent till date.

Instant comments

S. Gurumurthy, columnist, who acted as moderator said that political leaders and the media made instant comments on the budget based on the budget speech of the Finance Minister, without going through the budget document.

The views therefore did not represent the true budgetary provisions and distorted the discussion on the budget. Finding fault with the rating of the budget as one which taxed the rich, he said that a thorough reading of the budget document would reveal that tax foregone has trebled, while the corporate profits have doubled.

The development spending has been cut by Rs. 92,000 crores in order to finance the fiscal deficit, he said.

Mr. Gurumurthy wanted the VIT to constitute a small group comprising economists to study the pre-budget economic survey and the budget document of the last seven years and prepare a volume which could be distributed to the MPs in order to enlighten them on the real import of the budget document.

The media, he said, is failing to create a public opinion by writing editorials and airing comments based on the budget speech and not the budget document.

D. Raja, National Secretary of the Communist Party of India, said that this year’s budget was neither in the interests of the country nor its people.

The budget mentions a whopping Rs. 5,73,630 cores as taxes foregone, which was more than the fiscal deficit of Rs. 5,20,925 crores.

“Why do you talk of fiscal deficit and current account deficit after giving so much tax concessions to the corporate houses,” he asked.

The budget, he said, did not address the question of creating jobs for the youth, though it promises to create 10 million jobs for the youth.

The fact that agriculture has been neglected in the budget could be seen from the fact that the investment of 6.8 per cent on agriculture was much lower than the 14 per cent share of agriculture in the GDP.

“In such a scenario, how do you expect agriculture to be remunerative?” he asked.

M. Durai Pandian, General Secretary, Central Government Employees Coordination Committee affiliated to the CPI (M) said that the budget was a continuation of the new economy policy of liberalisation, privatisation and globalisation initiated by Manmohan Singh as Finance Minister in 1991.

M. Abdul Rahman (Indian Union Muslim League), Vellore MP, alleged that there was misappropriation of funds allotted under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, under which more than 60 per cent labourers were given less than the prescribed wages.

C. Gnanasekaran, former Congress MLA of Vellore said the allocation of Rs. 37,330 crore for health, Rs. 4,727 crore for medical education, training and research and Rs. 2,000 crore for science research would disprove the allegation of Mr. Raja that the budget was pro-corporate.

Naramalli Sivaprasad (Telugu Desam Party), Chittoor MP, said the budget has nothing for the common man.

S. Narayanan, Pro-Vice-Chancellor, VIT welcomed the gathering. G. Karunanithi, Associate Dean, VIT-BS proposed a vote of thanks.

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