ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Annual Budget and Its ‘Amrit Kaal’

Offering a response to the annual budgetary exercise has become as rhetorical as the government making new promises to people in every annual budget. The critique of such an exercise argues that this involves a simple act of carrying forward promises from the last budget. This carrying forward is without sharing with the people the action taken or expenditure in terms of utilisation and underutilisation. Vibrant governance needs to be judged on the basis of the utilisation. But this budget has been criticised for underutilisation of the provisions made in the last one. For example, the government has been criticised either for its underutilisation of the provisions made in the previous budget or the inadequate provisions in the current budget. One may ironically choose to treat the budget as “progressive” only in the absence of budgetary provisions for the crucial sectors such as employment. The editorial in the current EPW issue throws lights on the budgetary inadequacies in this regard. The budget is progressive when the action taken as promised or when the provisions and expenditure are matched. Promises also give rise to a new vocabulary, but which is less informed by the fulfilment of promise and more by the wisdom in free imagination that is reflected in the expression “Amrit Kaal.” As has been pointed out by the critique of the budget by the opposition, the assessment of the budget has to be taken up rather sincerely on a yearly basis. Such an exercise can offer a realistic and convincing account of the performance of the government in power. This would mean a solution to the problems that have to be sought in terms of the “here-and-now” problems of the people, in a concrete and not an abstract time frame of “Amrit Kaal,” which offers metaphysical satisfaction rather than a material solution.

When we think of the budget in concrete terms, we need to ask the following question: Should not the infrastructure, such as highways, be provided, leading to existing schools or hospitals? Does this not mean we need hospitals and schools? Or should we not ask the question that government subsidies, such as medical insurance, make sense only in terms of the access to the actual facility being available to those holding a health insurance policy? Should not the government acknowledge that the success of budgetary provisions depends on the availability of conditions for such provisions’ enactment?

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Updated On : 12th Feb, 2022
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