Budget 2008: For The Minorities

The Budget is back and yet again, it is one of the most anticipated events of the year. It is predicted that, this year, the Budget will give importance to various other spheres, which in the past have not been given much attention, but are among the top in the priority list this time.

India is a land of diverse cultures which are rooted deep in everyone’s heart. However, there are still many communities which are not getting their fair share of opportunities amidst all the development and progress in the country. Moreover, they are regarded as “minorities” and are ghettoized. Their interests are given least importance and they are remembered just prior to the elections as their votes help in turning tables towards the contesting party. The Government has made efforts to offer reservations to these minorities in some of the prestigious institutions of the country, but still, one can hardly see any change. A strong foundation of primary education should be built and incentives should be given to the minorities like books to study, and upgradation of existing educational infrastructure should be ensured. Scheduled castes, scheduled tribes are the minorities and onerous efforts are being made to bring change in their existing status.

This time the focal point of the Budget should lie in bringing change and doing something which has been long thought of, but never been implemented efficiently. There is no point in having a GDP of above 9% if it comes only from a handful of people and not the entire country. Earlier, commissions have been made for safeguarding the interests of the minorities, but no concrete steps have ever been taken. It is a sad state of affairs where rules are made on paper but seldom implemented. This time the peak challenge which lies in front of the Finance Minister, Mr. P. Chidambaram is to allot a Budget for uplifting this faction of the society.

In India, the Government never misses to play its game; the UPA Government in order to win the Muslim population’s hearts’ set up a welfare community for the minorities. Last year, the Budget allocated for tribal welfare was Rs.500 crores, and it needs to be incremented to a Rs. 1000 crores.

Another problem which needs deep pondering is the piteous conditions and the plight of the people living below poverty line which comprise a percentage of around 30% of the total population. This year the Government has decided to allocate a major part of the Union Budget to the up-gradation of this class. Poverty alleviation schemes in urban areas would get a major boost with allocations nearly doubling from Rs.500 crores to Rs. 1,000 crores.

Rural India constitutes a large chunk of minority population. The Ministry of Rural Development is likely to get Rs.20, 000 crores for the allocation of the flagship National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme. The Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment is likely to see a marginal increase from Rs. 2,000 crores to Rs.2, 200 crores in the Budget.

India expects a great Budget 2008 for all the sectors and classes of the society with the hope that everyone can prosper and grow, and an overall development can be recorded.

Ravi Agarwal