The last full budget of the NDA government was finally presented by Arun Jaitley on February 1 and it was indeed an eye-opener, to say the least.

Sanjeev Goenka has called it,’The Best Budget Ever’ while some call it ‘another Jumla’,’ a budget to seek votes and not growth’. This year’s budget on the face of it might be pleasing to the eye but has some major shortcomings.

Let us analyze some of the finer points of the much talked about budget-

A Massive Health Scheme Has Been Announced Which Might Just Be Restricted To The Paper

The Finance Minister with much enthusiasm announced a new flagship programme, the National Health Protection Scheme which aims to cover ten crore poor families with an allocation of Rs 5 lakh per family.

It has been dubbed by him as,’ World’s largest health care programme’.

Interesting to note out here is that the government had announced the National Health Protection Scheme in last year’s budget as well and had promised to allocate Rs 1 lakh to each family. The NHPS never quite managed to fly and the government even went on further to say just about 2 months ago that,

“The contours of the scheme are yet to be finalized.”

Funny or sad, the government has increased the amount to Rs. 5 lakhs from Rs. 1 lakh in the current budget.

Also, as mentioned in The Wire, the current mega and ambitious scheme of the government seems to be changing hands from public sector to private sector which isn’t appreciable at any stage. As seen in any other country, handing out the responsibility of public health to private players spells doom.

Also read: Should Air India Be Privatized?

Also, some leading newspapers like The Indian Express have explicitly mentioned that the current government has not had time to consider and implement NHPS  for more than a year now and has kept on making large claims without any substantial output.

Will The Great Education Dream Ever Come True?

Education has largely been ignored and not taken seriously by either Congress or BJP but the current budget has laid a lot of importance on it which is heartwarming.

Arun Jaitley clearly emphasized the need to equip the education strategy with the digital revolution and to view education from a holistic point of view which primarily means to see it as a continuum from primary to secondary.

There isn’t any shade of a doubt regarding the good intentions of the government but the budget allocated for the noble purpose is baffling.

The total budget of the National Education Mission is up by a mere 3,000 crores from Rs 28,255 crore last year to Rs 31,212 crore this year.

As mentioned by Kiran Bhatty who is a Senior Fellow at the Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi, “only 62% of all schools have an electricity connection, only 24% have functional computers and only 9% have an electricity connection and a functional computer.”

The budget allocated for the digital revolution in education as one may call it is too less to achieve any such objective.

The Status Of The Cryptocurrency

It was highly surprising to see cryptocurrency being mentioned in the budget but it wasn’t good news for the cryptocurrency users.

MoneyControl reported that Finance Minister, Arun Jaitley today cleared that cryptocurrency is not legal tender and will discourage its use at all levels. However, he mentioned that the government will look at the utilization of blockchain technology.

“The Government does not consider crypto-currencies legal tender or coin and will take all measures to eliminate use of these crypto-assets in financing illegitimate activities or as part of the payment system. The Government will explore use of Blockchain technology proactively for ushering in digital economy.”

This has left the investors in a doldrum because the government hasn’t banned cryptocurrency exchanges as such but has discouraged them vehemently.

Other Key Highlights

With a clear eye on the upcoming state and Lok Sabha elections, BJP fired out all guns to boost the agriculture sector, please the farmers and give special emphasis to health and education. But will any of the schemes be successfully implemented? We can just hope for the best.

Sources: The Wire, Economic Times, MoneyControl

Images- Economic Times, The Hindu

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