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A moment wasted


Indian Express

Context

Budget makes some good moves on agriculture. But they don’t add up to reforms necessary to meet aspirations in rural India

Welcome initiatives

Author states that the Union budget has provided some welcome initiatives like

  1. Boosting rural roads: Support for rural roads (Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana) in the current as well as coming fiscal, at Rs 19,000 crore each, is more than double the Rs 8,885 crore and Rs 9,806 crore allocated in 2012-13 and 2013-14, respectively
  2. Boosting rural housing: The budgeted expenditure of Rs 23,000 crore for rural housing (Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana) in 2017-18 is, again, almost twice the Rs 12,982 crore that was spent in 2013-14
  3. Helping Agri & farm sector:The creation of a Long-Term Irrigation Fund with a total corpus of Rs 40,000 crore, a new Pradhan Mantri FasalBima Yojana that is certainly an improvement over previous crop insurance schemes in terms of coverage and sums insured (though the subsidy provision of Rs 9,000 crore may prove inadequate)
  4. Improving MGNREGS: Crediting of MGNREGA wages directly into the accounts of beneficiaries alongside efforts to link the programme with building of productive assets (farm ponds, dub wells, compost pits, etc.)

Author’s contention

The reforms are good but are inadequate wrt the necessary reforms to meet the rising aspirations in rural India. Government could have taken the lead for these bold reforms — replacing subsidies with direct benefit transfers and deregulating urea prices, among other things — in the first half of its tenure


 

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