On January 31, 2023, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman tabled the Economic Survey 2022-23 in Parliament at the commencement of the Budget Session. According to the Survey, India will witness GDP growth of 6.0 per cent to 6.8 per cent in 2023-24, depending on the trajectory of economic and political developments globally. The Economic Survey 2022-23 projects a baseline GDP growth of 6.5 per cent in real terms in FY24. The Survey says, in real terms, the economy is expected to grow at 7 per cent for the year ending March 2023. This follows an 8.7 per cent growth in the previous financial year. Despite the three shocks of COVID-19, the Russia-Ukraine conflict and the Central Banks across economies led by Federal Reserve responding with synchronised policy rate hikes to curb inflation, leading to an appreciation of the US Dollar and the widening of the Current Account Deficits (CAD) in net importing economies, agencies worldwide continue to project India as the fastest-growing major economy at 6.5-7.0 per cent in FY23, says the Survey. According to the Survey, India’s economic growth in FY23 has been principally led by private consumption and capital formation, and they have helped generate employment as seen in the declining urban unemployment rate and in the faster net registration in Employee Provident Fund. Moreover, the world’s second-largest vaccination drive involving more than 2 billion doses also served to lift consumer sentiments that may prolong the rebound in consumption. The Survey narrates about six challenges faced by the Global Economy. Global growth is forecasted to slow from 3.2 per cent in 2022 to 2.7 per cent in 2023 as per IMF’s World Economic Outlook, October 2022. The Survey notes that, like the rest of the world, India, too, faced this extraordinary set of challenges but withstood them better than most economies.
Govt Spending in Social Sector
According to the Survey, social sector expenditure increased to 21.03 Lakh Crore in Fy 23 from 9.1 Lakh crore in Fy 16. As per the report, in India, 41.5 crore people exited poverty between 2005-06 and 2019-21. Also, it emerged from the Survey that Aadhaar is an essential tool for social delivery by the State. 318 Central schemes and over 720 state DBT schemes are notified under section 7 of the Aadhaar Act, 2016. Various initiatives and 135.2 Crore Aadhaar enrollments have been generated, and 75.3 crore residents have linked their Aadhaar with ration cards to avail of Ration.
Public health infrastructure
Since the beginning improving health infrastructure has been the focus of the Government, in this regard, 1.5 lahks Ayushman Bharat- Health & Wellness Centres were set up before December 31, 2022, leading to the strengthening of primary healthcare. Economic Survey 2022-23 illustrates significant improvement in the quality of rural lives; health indicators register an uptick. Also, as many as 21.9 crore beneficiaries have been verified under the Ayushman Bharat Pradhan Mantri – Jan Arogya Yojana (AB PM-JAY) Scheme, including 3 crore beneficiaries verified using State IT systems as on January 4, 2023. Furthermore, approximately 4.3 crore hospital admissions, amounting to Rs. 50,409 crore, have also been authorised under the scheme through a network of over 26,055 hospitals. The Survey shows a hike in the share of expenditure on health in the total expenditure on social services, which has increased from 21 per cent in FY19 to 26 per cent in FY23 (BE).
Generating employment in rural areas has remained a challenge for many governments in the past; the Survey aims to improve the quality of life in rural areas for more equitable and inclusive development. According to the Survey, Assets created under MGNREGS positively impact agricultural productivity and household income, reducing migration and indebtedness. A significant rise in rural female labour force participation rate was witnessed from 19.7 per cent (2018-19) to 27.7 per cent (2020-21)
The Survey refers to National Family Health Survey data for 2019-21 which illustrates a significant improvement vis-à-vis 2015-16 in an array of indicators concerning the quality of rural lives, including, inter alia, access to electricity, presence of improved drinking water sources, coverage under health insurance schemes, etc. Women empowerment has also gained momentum, with visible progress in female participation in household decision-making, owning bank accounts, and use of mobile phones, points out the Survey.
Significantly, most of the indicators concerning the health of rural women and children have improved. These outcome-oriented statistics establish tangible medium-run progress in rural living standards, aided by the policy focus on basic amenities and efficient programme implementation.
Robust Growth in Agriculture
In the last 9 years, the Government tried to bring new laws to improve the life of farmers. Also took the initiative to support farmers through PM Kisan Yojana. According to the Survey, India’s agriculture sector has been witnessing robust growth, with an average annual growth rate of 4.6 per cent over the last six years. This has enabled the agriculture and allied activities sector to contribute significantly towards the country’s overall growth, development and food security. Significantly, the Government has been increasing the MSP for all 22 Kharif, Rabi and other commercial crops with a margin of at least 50 per cent over the all-India weighted average cost of production since the agricultural year 2018-19, says the Survey. Relatively higher MSP was given to pulses and oilseeds in order to keep pace with the changing dietary patterns and achieve the goal of self-sufficiency. Also, The Government has set a target of ₹18.5 lakh crores in agricultural credit flow in 2022-23. The Government has consistently increased this target every year, and it has also been able to continuously surpass the target set every year over the past several years. In 2021-22, it was about 13 per cent more than the target of ₹16.5 lakh crores. The Survey suggests this achievement was made possible because the Government had designed a multitude of initiatives to ensure hassle-free credit availability to farmers at a competitive interest rate – the Kisan Credit Card (KCC) Scheme, which provides credit at any time, and Modified Interest Subvention Scheme which provides short term agricultural loan up to ₹3 lakhs at the subsidised interest rate. The Survey points out that 11.3 crore farmers received income support from the Government under the April-July 2022-23 cycle of PM KISAN. India’s foodgrain production touched a record 315.7 million tonnes in 2021-22 despite climate change challenges.
Focus on Quality Education
Education has been among the key areas of the Government in the last 9 years. The Government also brought NEP 2020 to provide quality education to future generations. According to the Survey, school enrollment stands at 26.5 crore children in FY22. 19.4 lakh additional school children enrolled in primary to higher secondary level in FY22. Over 14,500 schools are to be developed as exemplary schools under PM SHRI, more than 20 lakh students to benefit. The number of Indian Institutes of Information Technology (IIITS) also rose to 25 in 2022 against 9 in 2014.
In both urban and rural areas, unemployment rates have fallen from 5.8 per cent in 2018-19 to 4.2 per cent in 2020-21. A rise in rural female labour force participation rate has also been witnessed from 19.7 per cent in 2018-19 to 27.7 per cent in 2020-21. Also, a total of over 28.5 crore unorganised workers have been registered on the E-Shram portal. Female registrations stood at 52.8 per cent of the total and 61.7 per cent of total registrations.