If I could define this fiscal budget in one word it would be 'Recovery'. The impact of the economic challenged caused by COVID 19 could only be overturned through significant announcements towards social growth, particularly sectors such as education, livelihoods and healthcare.
In perhaps the most relevant announcement given the COVID 19 context, is the support to the unorganised labour force through the proposed portal enabling them with available health, housing, skill, insurance credit and food schemes. Extending these social security and minimum wages to all categories of workers, is a welcome move. Additionally, the announcement and acknowledgment of Women being allowed to work in all categories of labour and also in night shifts with adequate protection, is positive, but will entail a fair evaluation of their safety in these situations.
Further in the agricultural sector, the increase in the allocation under the Rural Infrastructure Development Fund and the Micro-Irrigation corpus is welcomed. However support to Rural enterprises could also have been extended as these enterprises are leading the way to provide opportunities for those in the most marginalised locations.
In regard to Education, the strengthening of over 15,000 schools under NEP as exemplar schools across India, will be useful in understanding the implementation of NEP for other schools to emulate. In terms of higher education, the Higher Education Commission legislation being announced this year will provide more clarity on the sector.
The extensive allocations under healthcare provisions, including vaccination for Covid-19 has been encouraging
However, we would have liked to see more focus on women in this budget. Women enterprises and women farmers need focused attention and support from the government through the different schemes available. Additionally impetus on women's health, both mental and physical, need much more attention than they are currently getting.
Overall, the budget this year is of increased significance as we continue to aim to rebuild our economy, but its victory will lie in the impact it has on social rebuilding of our nation.