Has Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman steered the economy out of the woods?
Whether it’s “aspirational India” or “caring society,” as part of growing up, we saw these themes outside India and would always curse. And all this is so easy to defer to be a populist. Funding these things while also trying to manage the economy, I think, is a great thing. As a responsible citizen, I am very pleased to see that money has not been thrown around left, right and centre to please people.
Is this a populist, please-all Budget?
The finance minister has not given in to the pressures of delivering a please-all Budget, which I really like. She has taken strong decisions.
Will it help the economy, create jobs, restart stalled projects?
The government believes that by focussing on infrastructure, jobs would be renewed and consumers would spend more money.
It’s all also about how people perceive it. Sometimes you can have the worst disease in the world and when you go to a doctor he tells you that you are fine. You actually start getting better.
What was the best thing about the Budget? And the worst?
I am glad that the Budget is being seen as a serious exercise. While growing up, Budgets were about things like, “toothpaste <ek rupiya sasta ho gaya> (toothpaste is now a rupee cheaper)”. What I like is the focus on infrastructure and also the money dedicated for the welfare of schedule caste and schedule tribes, and other backward classes, besides the money allotted to the elderly, and women and children.
The allocation nutritional programme is a step in the right direction. The only thing I did not like is that the fiscal deficit target has been raised to 3.8 per cent from 3.3 per cent. I think we should be bridging the gap and not increasing it in a growing economy.