#Budget2020: Govt calls it aspirational, energizing!

The top ministers in the union government called it a pragmatic, holistic and people's budget with a focus on holistic health, medical infrastructure, and medical education

The Union Minister for Finance and Corporate Affairs, Nirmala Sitharaman departs from North Block to Rashtrapati Bhavan and Parliament House, along with the Minister of State for Finance and Corporate Affairs, Anurag Singh Thakur and the senior officials to present the General Budget 2020-21, in New Delhi on February 01, 2020.

New Delhi: Dressed for the occasion in a bright yellow saree that signified an aspirational India, Union Finance Minister, Ms Nirmala Sitharaman presented the first budget of this decade on 1st February. Calling it a series of far-reaching reforms aimed at energizing the Indian economy through a combination of short, medium and long-term measures, Ms Sitharaman listed out the achievements of the government in one of the longest-ever budget speech on the floor of Parliament.

The budget 2020-21 of Modi government has three prominent themes that include: Aspirational India – a vision for better standards of living with access to health, education and better jobs for all sections of the society, Economic Development for all – “Sabka Saath , Sabka Vikas , Sabka Vishwas”, Caring Society – both humane and compassionate; Antyodaya as an article of faith.

Three components of Aspirational India that the budget 2020-21 repeatedly refers to include Agriculture, Irrigation, and Rural Development; Wellness, Water, and Sanitation; as well as Education and Skills.

Agriculture remains a top priority

The budget listed out a 16 Action Points Agenda for Agriculture, Irrigation and Rural Development and allocation of Rs 2.83 lakh crore for the same. Besides that Rs 1.60 lakh crore has been allocated for Agriculture, Irrigation & allied activities as well as Rs 1.23 lakh crore for Rural Development & Panchayati Raj. Agriculture credit includes Rs 15 lakh crore target set for the year 2020-21; PM-KISAN beneficiaries will be covered under the KCC scheme, and NABARD Re-finance Scheme to be further expanded. The comprehensive measures for 100 water-stressed districts have been proposed.

Under Blue Economy, Rs 1 lakh crore fisheries’ exports are to be achieved by 2024-25; 200 lakh tonnes fish production targeted by 2022-23; 3477 Sagar Mitras and 500 Fish Farmer Producer Organisations to involve youth in fisheries extension; Growing of algae, sea-weed and cage culture to be promoted; and Framework for development, management, and conservation of marine fishery resources.

The budget proposes setting up of Kisan Rail by Indian Railways through Public-Private Partnership, to build a seamless national cold supply chain for perishables (milk, meat, fish, etc) and express and Freight trains to have refrigerated coaches.

A new program, Krishi Udaan would be launched by the Ministry of Civil Aviation under which both international and national routes to be covered. Also, the North-East and tribal districts will realize the improved value of agri-products.

One-Product One-District for better marketing and export in the Horticulture sector. Balanced use of all kinds of fertilizers – traditional organic and innovative fertilizers. Measures for organic, natural, and integrated farming, Jaivik Kheti Portal – online national organic products market to be strengthened, Zero-Budget Natural Farming (mentioned in July 2019 Budget) to be included. Integrated Farming Systems in rain-fed areas to be expanded. Multi-tier cropping, bee-keeping, solar pumps, solar energy production in the non-cropping season to be added.

PM-KUSUM to be expanded: 20 lakh farmers to be provided for setting up stand-alone solar pumps. Another 15 lakh farmers to be helped to solarise their grid-connected pump sets. Scheme to enable farmers to set up solar power generation capacity on their fallow/barren lands and to sell it to the grid.

Village Storage Scheme: To be run by the SHGs to provide farmers a good holding capacity and reduce their logistics cost. Women, SHGs to regain their position as Dhaanya Lakshmi.

NABARD would map and geo-tag agri-warehouses, cold storages, reefer van facilities, etc. Warehousing will be made in line with Warehouse Development and Regulatory Authority (WDRA) norms: Viability Gap Funding for setting up such efficient warehouses at the block/taluk level. Food Corporation of India (FCI) and Central Warehousing Corporation (CWC) will undertake such warehouse building. Financing on Negotiable Warehousing Receipts (e-NWR) to be integrated with e-NAM. State governments who undertake the implementation of model laws (issued by the Central government) to be encouraged.

Livestock: The budget sets a target of doubling of milk processing capacity to 108 million MT from 53.5 million MT by 2025. Artificial insemination to be increased to 70% from the present 30%. MNREGS to be dovetailed to develop fodder farms. Foot and Mouth Disease, Brucellosis in cattle and Peste Des Petits ruminants (PPR) in sheep and goat to be eliminated by 2025.

Wellness and preventive healthcare takes centre stage

The healthcare sector has been allocated Rs 69,000 crore, out of which Rs 6400 crore has been kept for PM Jan Arogya Yojana (PMJAY). More than 20,000 hospitals already empanelled under this scheme. Viability Gap Funding window proposed for setting up hospitals in the PPP mode. Aspirational Districts with no Ayushman empanelled hospitals will be covered in the first phase. The budget talks about targeting diseases with an appropriately designed preventive regime using Machine Learning and AI.

Jan Aushadhi Kendra Scheme will offer 2000 medicines and 300 surgicals in all districts by 2024. It mentions the launch of TB Harega Desh Jeetega campaign and commitment to end Tuberculosis by 2025. Rs. 3.60 lakh crore approved for Jal Jeevan Mission: Rs. 11,500 crore for the year 2020-21. Augmenting local water sources, recharging existing sources, and promoting water harvesting and de-salination. Cities with million-plus population to be encouraged to achieve the objective during the current year itself.

Rs.12, 300 crore allocation for Swachh Bharat Mission in 2020-21: Commitment to ODF-Plus in order to sustain ODF behaviour. Emphasis on liquid and greywater management. Focus also on Solid-waste collection, source segregation, and processing.

Reacting to the budget, Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare, Dr Harsh Vardhan stated that the focus this time is on medical infrastructure, human resources in the health sector, and holistic health & wellness.  “Budget 2020 has sharpened the focus on skilling and upgradation of medical human resources, the Union Minister stated. Under National Board of Examinations, large hospitals with sufficient capacity will be encouraged to train Resident doctors in DNB / FNB. Bridge course for nurses and paramedics for equivalence with foreign courses will designed by the Ministry of Health and Skill Development together with professional bodies.”

With emphasis on holistic health, the Budget underscores the importance of positive, preventive and primitive health with support for Mission Indradhanush, Fit India campaign, digital linkage of all Ayushman Bharat Health & Wellness Centres (to help wide use of tele medicine), Dr Harsh Vardhan stated.

New education policy soon, fresh allocations for skill development 

The budget 2020 has allocated Rs 99,300 crore for education sector and Rs. 3000 crore for skill development. It also revealed the plan for a new education policy soon. National Police University and National Forensic Science University have been proposed for policing science, forensic science, and cyber-forensics.

Keeping in view the growing importance of the online education system, the degree level full-fledged online education program by top-100 institutions in the National Institutional Ranking Framework.

The budget proposes to attach a medical college to an existing district hospital in PPP mode. Special bridge courses would be designed by the Ministries of Health, and Skill Development.