Union Budget 2019-20: First Take

Union Budget 2019-20 first take: Moving strategically to a $5-trillion economy

The format of the current budget represents an interesting departure from the past. It lays out the bold goal for us, as a nation, to work towards a progressive and inclusive India that is a global leader by 2025. It, holistically, lays out the strategic building blocks the government plans to focus on for each sector of the economy, and articulates actions to be taken in the next one year towards the long-term goals. This gives confidence that there is clarity of vision, combined with commitment, to ensure continuity in policy making for the next five years.

The budget recognizes that the key to a progressive and inclusive India is the radical transformation of the agri sector, scaling-up of new growth avenues for the rural economy and sharply improving the quality of life in rural India.

The focus on Zero Budget Farming recognises that to double farmer’s income, a holistic approach focused on yield improvement and farm-level self-sufficiency is critical.

Doubling farmer’s income requires not just yield and cost management on the field via Zero-Budget Farming but also an avenue for the farmer to get the best price realisation for the produce. It is therefore heartening to see the continued focus on Farmer Producer Organisations. Expanding the pool of FPOs by 10,000 will help the farming communities immensely to stay in-tune with the market pulse.

We have FPO success stories all over India right from J&K, U.P., Rajasthan and Maharashtra down to Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. FPOs under the umbrella of Small Farmers’ Agri-Business Consortium were able to increase the income of small and marginal farmers supported by equity grant and credit guarantee schemes along with linkages into the e-NAM platform. It is indeed the right time to scale-up this proven model nationwide.

Finally, success of any agriculture program requires state support. So the creation of a high-powered Committee of Chief Ministers to drive agri-transformation clearly demonstrates the central Government’s intent to drive sustainable change in the agri sector.

Unmistakable intent

On the rural side beyond agriculture there is a clear focus on building further on hugely successful programs like the Swach Bharat Abhiyan, Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana, Saubhagya Yojana and the Pradhan Mantri Gramin Awaas Yojana while simultaneously expanding the scope to solid waste management and integrating the schemes appropriately for maximum impact. Overall, the intent on rural development is unmistakable.

A new big priority is water management while ensuring water availability for all rural households and farms. An integrated approach to policy making and deployment has been the key gap in the past. The government has taken two critical steps to address this gap. The creation of Jal Shakti Mantralaya is a critical first step. In addition, they have also brought all schemes under the ambit of the Jal Jivan mission. This is only the beginning of a long journey.

Mallika Srinivasan is chairperson & CEO, TAFE

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Printable version | Sep 24, 2020 8:09:46 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/business/budget/union-budget-2019-20-first-take-moving-strategically-to-a-5-trillion-economy/article28296985.ece

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