ALSO READBudget 2018 might have Rs 740-bn allocation towards fertiliser subsidy Budget 2018: Budgetary support for Indian Railways to be cut by 27% in FY18 Budget 2018: New bottoms-up mechanism for farm-gate marketing likely Budget 2018 may waive NOC to streamline transfer of stressed assets Budget 2018: Unfair to judge me on demonetisation and GST only, says Modi
Nuts and Bolts
Upgrade for agricultural markets
The government will develop and upgrade the existing 22,000 rural haats into Gramin Agricultural Markets (GrAMs). The physical infrastructure in these GrAMs will be strengthened using MGNREGA and other government schemes. The GrAMs, electronically linked to e-NAM and exempted from regulations of APMCs, will provide farmers with a facility to make direct sales to consumers and bulk purchasers.
Focus on linking habitations with rural markets
The deadline for connecting all eligible habitations with an all-weather road has been brought forward to March 2019, from March 2022. The focus now will be on strengthening and widening its ambit further to include major link routes which connect habitations to agricultural and rural markets (GrAMs), higher secondary schools and hospitals.
Big push for organic farming
Organic farming by Farmer Producer Organisations (FPOs) and Village Producers’ Organisations (VPOs) in large clusters, preferably of 1,000 hectares each, will be promoted. Women’s Self Help Groups (SHGs) will also be encouraged to take up organic agriculture in clusters under the National Rural Livelihood Programme.
Govt to support cultivation of medicinal, aromatic plants
The government will allocate Rs 2 billion to support a large number of small and cottage industries that manufacture perfumes, essential oils and other associated products. This is because the ecology of the country supports cultivation of highly specialised medicinal and aromatic plants.
Allocation for food processing doubled
With the food processing sector growing at an average rate of eight per cent per year, the government has decided to double the allocation to this sector, from Rs 7.15 billion in 2017-18 (revised estimates) to Rs 14 billion in 2018-19. The Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sampada Yojana is the flagship programme for boosting investment in food processing.
‘Operation Green’ to be launched
The government has allocated Rs 5 billion to launch Operation Green on the lines of Operation Flood. Operation Green will promote Farmer Producers Organisations (FPOs), agri-logistics, processing facilities and professional management. Also, the government will set up state-of-the-art testing facilities in all the 42 Mega Food Parks to realise the potential of exports of agri commodities.
Kisan Credit Cards extended to newer areas
The government has proposed to extend the facility of Kisan Credit Cards to fisheries and animal husbandry farmers to help them meet their working capital needs. Small and marginal farmers will get more benefits.
A big push for bamboo in mission mode
The government will launch a re-structured National Bamboo Mission with an outlay of Rs 12.90 billion to promote the bamboo sector in a holistic manner. It had earlier removed bamboo grown outside forest areas from the definition of trees, giving a major fillip to its cultivation and usage.
Govt to buy surplus solar power generated by farmers
The Union government will encourage state governments to put in place a mechanism to ensure that the surplus solar power generated by farmers on their lands is purchased by distribution companies or licensees at reasonably remunerative rates. Many farmers are installing solar water pumps to irrigate their fields.
New funds to push fisheries and animal husbandry
Rs 100 billion has been allocated to set up a Fisheries and Aquaculture Infrastructure Development Fund (FAIDF) for the fisheries sector and an Animal Husbandry Infrastructure Development Fund (AHIDF) for financing the infrastructure requirement of the animal husbandry sector. A Dairy Processing Infrastructure Development Fund (DPIDF) to help finance investment in dairying infrastructure had been announced last year.
Credit for lessee cultivators who do not get crop loans
NITI Aayog, in consultation with state governments, will evolve a mechanism that gives lessee cultivators access to credit without compromising the rights of the land owners. Presently, lessee cultivators are not able to avail of crop loans. Consequently, a significant proportion of arable land remains fallow and tenant cultivators are forced to secure credit from money lenders.
Scheme to reduce air pollution in northern states
The government will subsidise machinery required for management of crop residue, which has been a major cause for air pollution in the Delhi-NCR region. A special scheme will be implemented to support the efforts of the governments of Haryana, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and the NCT of Delhi to address this problem.
Big targets for various schemes for women, electricity for all and Swach Bharat
The PM’s Ujjwala Scheme, under which free LPG connections were given to 50 million poor women, will now be targeted at 80 million poor women. Under the Prime Minister’s Saubhagya Yojana for providing electricity to all households, the government is spending Rs 160 billion. This financial year the Swachh Bharat Mission has a target of constructing around 20 million toilets.
Irrigation in deprived districts
Rs 26 billion has been allocated for ground water irrigation under the Prime Minister Krishi Sinchai Yojna -- Har Khet ko Pani, which will be taken up in 96 deprived irrigation districts where less than 30 per cent of the land holdings presently get assured irrigation.
Comprehensive social security for the deprived
Rs 99.75 billion has been allocated to the National Social Assistance Programme, which is meant to provide a comprehensive social security and protection programme and reach every household of old, widows, orphaned children and the deprived, as per the Socio-Economic Caste Census.
A district-wise strategy for improving education
Concerned about the quality of education, the government has now defined learning outcomes after the National Survey of more than two million children was conducted to assess the status on the ground. This will help in devising a district-wise strategy for improving the quality of education. The government now proposes to treat education holistically without segmentation from pre-nursery to Class 12.
Move to create better teachers through training
The government will initiate an integrated BEd programme for teachers. The Right to Education Act has been amended to enable more than 1.3 million untrained teachers to get trained. The government also proposes to increase the digital intensity in education and move gradually from the ‘‘black board’’ to the ‘‘digital board’’.
Push for quality education for tribals and STs
To provide quality education to tribal children in their own environment, every block with more than 50 per cent ST population and at least 20,000 tribal persons, will have an Ekalavya Model Residential School by the year 2022. Ekalavya schools will be on a par with Navodaya Vidyalayas and will have special facilities for preserving local art and culture, besides providing training in sports and skill development.
New institutes of eminence and architecture
The government is setting up a specialised Railways University at Vadodara. It will also set up two new full-fledged Schools of Planning and Architecture (SPA), to be selected in the challenge mode. Additionally, 18 new SPAs will be established in the IITs and NITs as autonomous schools, also in challenge mode.
New Research Fellow scheme to be started
The government will launch the ‘‘Prime Minister’s Research Fellows (PMRF)’’ Scheme this year. Under it, it will identify the 1,000 best BTech students each year from premier institutions and provide them facilities to do a PhD in IITs and the IISc, with a handsome fellowship. It is expected that these persons would voluntarily commit a few hours every week for teaching in higher educational institutions.
Bringing health care closer to homes
Rs 15 billion has been allocated for setting up 150,000 centres which will bring health care closer to the homes of people. These centres will provide comprehensive health care, including for non-communicable diseases and maternal and child health services. These centres will also provide free essential drugs and diagnostic services. The contribution of the private sector through CSR and philanthropic institutions has been sought in adopting these centres.
Financial support for TB patients
The government has decided to allocate an additional Rs 6 billion for providing nutritional support to all TB patients at the rate of Rs 500 per month for the duration of their treatment. TB claims more lives every year than any other infectious disease. It mainly affects poor and malnourished people.
Plan for 24 new government medical colleges
To further enhance the accessibility of quality medical education and health care, government proposes to set up 24 new government medical colleges and hospitals by upgrading existing district hospitals in the country. This will ensure that there is at least one medical college for every three Parliamentary constituencies and at least one government medical college in each state of the country.
Scheme to make villages open defecation free
In order to making villages open defecation free, the government has proposed the launching of a scheme called Galvanizing Organic Bio-Agro Resources Dhan (GOBAR-DHAN) for management and conversion of cattle dung and solid waste in farms to compost, fertiliser, bio-gas and bio-CNG.
115 model districts to be developed
To achieve the vision of an inclusive society, the government has identified 115 aspirational districts, taking various indices of development into consideration. The aim is to improve the quality of life in these districts by investing in social services such as health, education, nutrition, skill upgradation, financial inclusion and infrastructure (irrigation, rural electrification, potable drinking water and access to toilets) at an accelerated pace.
10 iconic tourist destinations to be developed
Ten prominent tourist sites are to be developed into iconic tourist destinations through a holistic approach involving infrastructure and skill development, use of technology, attracting private investment, branding and marketing. In addition, tourist amenities at 100 Adarsh monuments of the Archaeological Survey of India will be upgraded to enhance visitor experience.
Airport infrastructure to be expanded
The government proposes to expand airport capacity more than five times to handle a billion trips a year under a new initiative -- NABH Nirman. To achieve this target, the balance sheet of AAI will be leveraged to raise more resources for funding this expansion.
Unified authority for regulating IFSCs
The International Financial Service Centre (IFSC) at Gift City, which has become operational, needs a coherent and integrated regulatory framework to fully develop and to compete with other offshore financial centres. The government will establish a unified authority for regulating all financial services in IFSCs in India.
NITI Aayog to initiate programme on digital economy
NITI Aayog will initiate a national programme to direct the country’s efforts in the area of artificial intelligence, including research and development of its applications. The global economy is transforming into a digital economy, thanks to the development of cutting-edge technologies in digital space -- machine learning, artificial intelligence, internet of things, and 3D printing.
Telecom infrastructure to be augmented in big way
Rs 100 billion has been allocated for creation and augmentation of telecom infrastructure in 2018-19. This will be used for setting up five lakh Wi-Fi hotspots which will provide broadband access to 50 million rural citizens. To harness the benefit of emerging new technologies, particularly 5G and its adoption, the department of telecom will support establishment of an indigenous 5G Test Bed at IIT-Madras.
Blockchain technology to be explored
The government will explore the use of blockchain technology proactively for ushering in the digital economy. But it does not consider crypto-currencies legal tender and will take all measures to eliminate the use of these crypto-assets in financing illegitimate activities or as part of the payment system.
New defence production policy on the anvil
The government will bring out an industry-friendly Defence Production Policy 2018 to promote domestic production by public sector, private sector and micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs). It will also take measures to develop two defence industrial production corridors in the country.
A unique ID for every enterprise
Just as Aadhaar has provided a unique identity to every Indian, the finance minister said that every enterprise, major or small, also needs a unique ID. The government will formulate a scheme to assign every individual enterprise in India a unique ID.
National Housing Bank to be restructured
The National Housing Bank Act is being amended to transfer its equity from the Reserve Bank of India to the government. Also, the Indian Post Offices Act, Provident Fund Act and National Saving Certificate Act are being amalgamated and certain additional “people friendly” measures are to be introduced.
Comprehensive gold policy on the cards
The government will formulate a comprehensive gold policy to develop the precious metal as an asset class. It will also establish a system of consumer-friendly and trade-efficient system of regulated gold exchanges in the country. The gold monetisation scheme will be revamped to enable people to open a hassle-free gold deposit account.
Emoluments of president, vice president and governors hiked
The emoluments of the President, the Vice-President and Governors were last revised with effect from January 1, 2006. These emoluments are proposed to be revised to Rs 500,000 for the President, Rs 400,000 for the Vice-President and to Rs 350,000 per month for governors.
Rs 1.5 bn for celebrating Mahatma’s 150th anniversary
Rs 1.5 billion has been allocated for the year 2018-19 to commemorate the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi on October 2, 2019. A national committee, chaired by the prime minister, and including the chief ministers of all states, representatives from across the political spectrum, Gandhians, thinkers and eminent persons from all walks of life, has been constituted to formulate a commemoration programme.