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Shubha Mudgal and Vikas Bahl on what budget means to them

Union Budget 2015-16 was presented by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley today

Ritika Bhatia 

Shubha Mudgal

Shubha Mudgal, singer

What is the best thing about the

Read our full coverage on Union Budget In India, there is a common saying that devotees of the Goddess Saraswati have no luck with the Goddess Lakshmi of Wealth. In keeping with that saying, I confess to my lack of knowledge regarding matters of fiscal import and significance.

Having said that, I believe that the best thing about the is that it specifically mentions the development of world heritage sites. Of course, there is no mention of allocations at the moment, so I am unaware of the funds allocated for this purpose, but perhaps details will be made available a little later. I would also hope that while the government proposes to restore and develop the churches and convents in Goa and other places, it would simultaneously ensure that churches in other parts of the country are not vandalised and defaced.

And the worst?

The thank you’s to groups and sectors that were in open support of the present regime, and the political motives behind the promise of funds to states like West Bengal and Bihar.

If you could make one change in the budget, it would be…

I would definitely make a pitch for increased support to arts and culture, and skill building in these areas. While world heritage sites have fortunately found attention in the Union Budget, I would also have liked intangible heritage and crafts to have received greater attention and support.

How will it impact BJP’s popularity?

Does the BJP need any more popularity? What it might need is some opposition for it to function better in a democracy.

Vikas Bahl

Vikas Bahl, filmmaker

What is the best part about the Budget?

The proposed action against black money is a positive aspect. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley also mentioned that the centre has devolved a 42% share of the divisible pool of taxes to the states [announced by the 14th Finance Commission on Tuesday], which will empower them with more resources, which I think is a good way of going forward because then everyone works together. I am also glad that they have abolished the wealth tax; I still have to make up my mind about the 2% surcharge.

And the worst?

They have announced a lot of schemes, as always, but I want to know who does the accounting for them? For instance, they have allotted more funds for the Nirbhaya fund -- but I still don't know what has been done of the existing funds. There is a huge gap between promising something and its execution, and I do hope it isn't the same story this time around as well.

If you could make one change in the budget, it would be…

Overall, I think it's a positive budget, a balanced budget. What I would like to see is the roadmap for bringing back the black money stashed abroad, and what they plan to do with it once it comes. Also, the biggest problem in our country is not creation but maintenance. Swachh Bharat has looked like a propaganda exercise to me, but they say they have constructed 5 million toilets and plan to construct more. Is there a plan for maintaining them? I don't know.

How will it impact BJP’s popularity?

I think the trickle down effect that the minister has gone for -- to be pro-rich and then get the money to the poor -- is a good approach. But it's another thing altogether if the poor view it as such. This can at times be used by the opposition to attack the government for being pro-rich, but I personally think the Budget is pro-poor as well.

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First Published: Sat, February 28 2015. 19:37 IST