THE Finance Bill 2023 should be considered as a very genuine and successful attempt to realise the original meaning of the term ‘economy’ -- which, in standard terms, is a comprehensive activity encompassing not just monetary and fiscal issues but also sociological dimensions of a community in which generating surplus and pushing forward the concept of welfare with relevant social concerns in mind. The central Budget presented by Union Minister of Finance Mrs. Nirmala Sitharaman appears to answer most social concerns -- highlighted so completely by the concept of Saptarshi -- seven national priorities -- inclusive development, reaching the last mile, infrastructure and investment, unleashing the potential, green growth, youth power, and financial sector. It is in these seven areas in which the Government would wish to focus its full attention as well as that of the entire society’s economic brains. No matter the political tall talk of previous years, the nation’s economic experts rarely paid such detailed attention to social concerns. From that point of view, the Union Budget 2023 is a truly historic document that would act as a concept paper for the next 25 years to the 100th year of India’s Independence -- a treatise for Amrutkal!
Practically, the Government led by Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi had been working on these seven priorities for long, at times pronouncedly and at times without making much noise about those. The good effect of that work on the ground was becoming visible to the larger society in a steady manner. But now, the Government initiated a pronounced effort to work on what can be called human-centric socio-economic agenda. There should be no doubt that this new approach is going to propel the country through the Amrutkal into a zone of comprehensive growth and development of all sectors of the larger Indian society.
What marks this Union Budget 2023 is a sensible as well as forceful pumping of financial resources into all concerns of national interest, making a well-defined attempt to enrich all critical segments of the society. Right from Defence to Infrastructure to Industry to Agriculture to Railways to Digital domain to Education to Culture to Sports to Women’s Empowerment, the Government has chosen to pump appropriate financial resources into all areas of national life. But most important push is to the idea of Atmanirbhar Bharat in different fields of activity.
True, the Government has made common tax-paying public happy by enhancing the exemption limit for Income Tax. This shows how concerned the Government is about the common Indian population. The attention to deprived sections of the larger society also is obvious in the Union Budget 2023.
Looking at allocations to these different domains, some skeptics may get an impression that the Government has crossed limits of sensible distribution of funds and that may land the country into monetary shrinkage. But the Union Budget 2023 does show fairly clearly how the Government has done a successful critical balancing of resource mobilisation, distribution and utilisation. Such a tough balancing act is not possible unless the leadership’s sense of vision and mission is clearly defined. It is amazing to see in this context what kind of detailed consideration has gone into making this historic document of socio-economic progress.
Of course, critics may accuse this budget as an election-inspired exercise, and nobody can stop them from making such allegations. But then, when the national economy is an extended zone of politics, nobody should fault any Government for thinking politically while setting the national economic agenda. But, a non-partisan analysis of the Union Budget 2023 will bring us to understand the thought-drivers that led to such a transparent vision and mission document.
There also is a pleasant aspect to look at in the Union Budget 2023. It relates to how the Government’s economic thinkers have resorted to seeking a connect to the very Indian way of social-economic thought -- as highlighted by masters such as Acharya Chanakya, for example, and many others over time. This has made this Union Budget far more and deeper rooted into the comprehensive consideration of all aspects of human life.