Open Letter to Finance Minister
Set ball rolling for playing role of Vishwa Guru, revisit globalization. Refrain from ‘Revdi’ culture, protect the vulnerable communities
Madam Finance Minister,
Magh Ekadashi Greetings!
As you get ready to present tenth budget of BJP-led government under stewardship of Prime Minister on February 1, Centre for Integrated and Holistic Studies has following suggestions to make.
Ignore the naysayers. Relegate to irrelevance, peddlers of Bharat’s doom.
- Bharat’s cultural, political and economic renaissance is inevitable. And, the federal budget should reflect this new role Bharat is set to play as ‘Vishwa Guru’, a position your government endorses very often.
- G-20, Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and several other global organizations are led by Bharat today. Geo-politically and as a compassionate partner of developing, least developed and most advanced countries, positioning our economy accordingly should drive your budget proposals.
- Global economic landscape is going through a sea-change with recession fears in Europe, lingering conflict in Ukraine and continued rage of Covid-19 pandemic in China. It’s an opportunity, responsibility and challenge for Bharat to play a role in re-shaping global economic architecture including supply chains that hitherto had been sloppy or slanted to protect and further the interests of a powerful few.
- Bretton Woods institutions under the IMF and World Bank umbrella need serious rejig and democratization while new players like the BRICS New Development Bank and Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank take firm shape. As founding members of these institutions, Bharat may have to push for transparency and access to funds for countries suffering from poverty, disease, under-development etc.
- Bharat is also set to overtake China to become the most populous country in 2023 as per the latest UN report surpassing 1.411 billion reported by our neighbour. This is bound put a lot of pressure on the country’s meagre resources.
- As you rise to present this last full budget of Narendra Modi government’s second term, 2024 Lok Sabha elections and nine state assemblies’ elections are bound to be on your mind.
- Kindly, support the vulnerable sections of Indian economy that have particularly gone through a difficult phase of Covid-19 pandemic and take the famed growth story rural. But, you may refrain from ‘Revdi’ culture that’s buying votes with meagre resources of a huge developing economy like ours. Will it not be appropriate to pinpoint 1000 such vulnerable groups and communities to invest our resources in?
- Macro-economic challenges notwithstanding, growth imperatives cannot be ignored. Seeking double digit growth in near future may be a tall order. But, fundamental shift in economic thinking may lead you to 10 per cent economic expansion progressively by 2028-29 beginning with seven per cent in 2024-25.
- We may have to revisit the very concept of globalization, liberalization and integration with international markets at a time when different countries are putting up firewalls to safeguard their own offensive and defensive economic interests.
- When I talk about transformational change, reaching out to last individual standing, in the spirit of ‘Antyodaya’ and ‘self-reliance’ is what needs to be pursued as core of your economic policy formulation. Can we identify 1000 clusters with at least 100 villages in each group that can be turned self-reliant in most aspects of life?
- Growth impulses and imperatives notwithstanding, you may have to strike a delicate balance between fiscal profligacy and consolidation as a strategy in the medium term. In layman terms, taxpayers’ hard earn money shared with the government in terms of taxes and other levies be responsibly invested and deployed.
- Madam Finance Minister, infrastructure led growth and industrial expansion has for long been regarded as sure shot way to achieve prosperity, jobs and economic spread. Infrastructure development may need your attention with about 30 per cent hike in capital investments to Rs 975,000 crore ($ 112 billion).
- New growth areas fuelled by gig economy as Bharat aspires to become technological super-power house may have to get equal importance as our aspirational youngsters set foot into competitive market. You may consider setting up a separate ‘cutting edge’ technologies fund that will drive innovations, optimize start-up ecosystem and unravel India’s full potential in data localization, artificial intelligence, robotics, quantum knowhow etc. A modest $ 5 billion overarching technology fund with deliverables across sectors like space, defence and security establishment, day to day problems of hoi polloi in Bharat and other least development countries.
- You may have to lay the roadmap for big changes in the way we would like to transform our hinterlands with holistic development focus. Bringing all rural development and agriculture schemes under one roof for integrated and sustainable development may be attempted to reduce pilferage, overlapping and straight jacketing of schemes, projects and deliverables.
- Export markets continue to reel under tremendous stress owing to lack of demand. If Bharat has to evolve as the global manufacturing hub, investing in export markets, products and services may become inevitable given that free trade agreements are being negotiated with half a dozen countries. In the medium term, should Bharat not devise a strategy to account for 10 per cent of global trade by 2028-29? Keeping this target for 2047 may be too little, taking too long.
- Energy markets are going through a big revamp globally with sustainable and green options becoming order of the day. Moving towards green and sustainable energy options in industrial manufacturing, mobility and household consumption is something that’s dear to your government. Quickly rolling out the support structures and financial incentives package for green hydrogen through dedicated mission will need your attention. Cutting carbon footprint, emissions and gradually moving Bharat towards a more environment friendly country with clear deadlines is what’s prescribed.
- Education and healthcare have received a lot of focus in last nine years. Still, we are way behind achieving global top notch status in world universities and institutions ranking index. Is there a way that your budget moves Bharat into top 100 universities order to attract global talent in ever expanding education sector? A full rejig in the syllabi with emphasise on civilizational connect of Bharat and what holds in future may have to be attempted. Same is the case with healthcare. Can Bharat be the undisputed top class healthcare destination that can boast of 1000 hospitals that are world class?
- In the immediate term Madam Finance Minister, jobs and new opportunities need to be carved out and reduce joblessness.
Let’s get the best of our spending in 2023-24, that’s expected to be about Rs 45,00,000 crore assuming 10 per cent increase in what was budgeted in the current fiscal.
With best wishes & regards