Kumar Mangalam Birla. Photo: Special Arrangement
Union Budget 2023-24 is a bold step towards envisioning a prosperous and inclusive India. One of the key pillars of the Indian economy remains agriculture. And the Budget has provided a much-needed boost to agriculture and allied sectors. The proposed unique and innovative approaches will increase farmer incomes and promote rural development. Among various initiatives that the Finance Minister has announced, the most far-reaching is the proposal to provide new age technology and digital platforms for farmers and rural entrepreneurs. This will ensure better access to farm inputs, credit, and insurance. Digitisation will help increase productivity by improving crop estimation, and market intelligence. These initiatives will surely strengthen the agri-tech industry and start-ups by providing not just adequate funds, but also technology support.
Another important initiative is to make India the global hub for ‘Millets – Shree Anna’. India is already the largest producer and exporter of millets and the focused approach will further deepen our presence in the world. The proposed agriculture credit budgeted at ₹20 lakh crore for allied sectors like animal husbandry, dairy and fisheries will ensure increased income for the rural population.
Beyond the focus on agriculture, the Union Budget has other key proposals like the thrust on capital expenditure, green growth, improvement in health care and education sector and rationalisation of income and indirect taxes. The Budget has proposed a 33% increase in capital expenditure to ₹10 lakh crore in FY24, accounting for almost 3.3% of GDP. Railways will take a substantial share of almost 25% of the total capital expenditure during FY24. Strengthening railways as mode of transport will not only improve safety, experiences of railway passengers but also provide more efficient movement of commercial goods. It will also reduce the cost of logistics. The outlay for ‘PM Awas Yojana’ is also being enhanced, with an allocation of ₹79,000 crore. This will help achieve the ‘Housing for All’, target of the government.
The proposals for better healthcare and strengthening the education sector will improve wellbeing. A similar focus has been on the urban population with higher allocation to strengthen urban infrastructure and reduce tax incidence on personal income. This will increase disposable income of the urban working population and will provide a boost to consumption.
The boost to economic growth has been well balanced with the focus on sustainability. The Budget aims to fulfil the long term sustainable goals of the country along with being the world’s fastest growing large economy. The boost to green technology and battery and storage solutions will enable India to integrate growth along with its energy security and energy transition plans. It will truly enable India to be ‘Atmanirbhar’ in a comprehensive sense. Beyond the focus on agriculture and industry, the Budget has also provided incentives to the services sector. The Budget has proposed specific incentives to tourism, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Fin-Tech sectors. The upgradation and development of skills in these sectors will go a long way to increase employment opportunities for a young population.
The Budget outlines a bold, comprehensive and inclusive strategy that ensures prosperity for all. It also sets the foundation for India’s Amrit Kaal.
Kumar Mangalam Birla is Chairman, Aditya Birla Group