New Delhi: Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman presented her fifth Union Budget on February 1 (Wednesday), in a paperless format, for the financial year 2023–2024. She declared it the “first budget of Amrit Kaal”- a term coined by the Central Government to define a brighter future as India completed 75 years of Independence. This is also the full budget of the Central Government before the next Parliamentary elections in 2024.
The Finance Minister said the government efficiently implemented many schemes with universalisation of targeted benefits and it has resulted in inclusive development, like building 11.7 crore household toilets under the Swachh Bharat Mission.
The Minister said that this year’s budget would be ambitious and focused on inclusivity, where the fruits of development would reach all the citizens, such as farmers, women, children, Scheduled Caste, Scheduled Tribe, etc.
Our focus is on broad reforms in line with ‘Sabka Prayas’ goal. India’s rising global profile is because of the launch of Aadhar, CoWIN, UPI, etc.
She said that the world has recognised India as a ‘bright star’.
Our growth for the current year is estimated at 7.0 per cent, this is the highest among all major economies, in spite of the massive global slowdown caused by the pandemic and the war, she added.
The budget adopts the seven priorities to achieve the “first budget of Amrit Kaal” – Inclusive development, Reaching last mile, Infrastructure investment, Unleashing the potential, Green growth and Youth power. FM Sitharaman said that the government’s primary focus was ‘Green Growth’ and will work on implementing programmes for fuel, energy, and farming to reduce the country’s carbon intensity and increase green job opportunities.
Here are the top highlights of 2023-2024 Budget:
- To enhance its commitment to food security, the government will provide free food grain to all Antyodaya and priority households for one year under the PM Garib Kalyan Ann Yojana. The entire expenditure of 2 lakh crores will be provided by the central government.
- A digital public infrastructure for agriculture will be built as an open source and interoperable public good that will have farmer centric solutions, help improve access to farm inputs, crop estimation, and agri-tech industry support, among others.
- The government will establish an agriculture accelerator fund to bring innovative and affordable solutions for small-scale farmers and adopt a cluster-based and value-chain approach through public-private partnerships.
- Atmanirbhar Clean Plant Programme: The government will launch the Atmanirbhar Clean Plant Programme to improve the availability of disease-free, high-quality planting material for high-value horticultural crops at an outlay of Rs 2,200 crore. It will boost the availability of disease free quality planting material for high value horticultural material.
- The government will support the Indian Institute of Millet Research, Hyderabad, as a centre of excellence for sharing best practises and technologies related to agriculture. For this, the agriculture credit target is kept at 20 lakh crores for animal husbandry, dairy, and fisheries.
- Mission to eliminate Sickle Cell Anaemia (SCA) by 2047: The government will conduct universal screening of 7 crore people up to 40 years of age in the effective tribal areas. It will also entail awareness and counselling through the collaborative efforts of central ministries and state governments.
- The government will establish 157 new nursing colleges in the core locations of the existing 157 medical colleges established since 2014.
- Facilities at Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) labs will be made available for private R&D (research and development) teams to encourage collaborative work. Dedicated multidisciplinary courses for medical devices will be established in the institutions to enhance skilled manpower.
- Aspirational Blocks programme covering 500 blocks has been launched for saturation of the government. Programmes related to health, nutrition, agriculture, water resources, and basic infrastructure.
- The government will introduce a new programme to promote research and innovation in pharma through centres of excellence.
- The Finance Minister increased the allocation made towards the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana by 66 per cent to Rs 79,000 in the Union Budget 2023–24, with the aim of providing sustainable irrigation for drinking water.
- From manhole to machinehole mode: The government will ensure the cleaning of sewers and septic tanks across the country through mechanical processes. Cities and towns will be able to fully transition their sewers and septic tanks from manhole to machine hole mode.
- Green Growth: With the focus on the environment and achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2070, the recently launched National Green Hydrogen Mission with an outlay of 19,700 crores will facilitate the transition of the economy to low carbon intensity and reduce dependence on fossil fuel imports.
- The government announced MISHTI scheme for mangrove plantation along the coastline and relevant regions and to accelerate India’s success in aforestation. Additionally, a green credit programme will be established to encourage behavioural change in companies, local bodies, and citizens.
- The government’s GOBARdhan scheme aims to assist villages in effectively managing recyclable and biodegradable waste. Under the scheme, the government will set up 500 waste-to-wealth plants. Apart from this, FM Sitharaman earmarked Rs 10,000 crore for the setting-up of 200 compressed biogas (CBG) plants and 300 community- and cluster-based biogas plants. The Minister earmarked a total of Rs 35,000 crore to prioritise the transition towards cleaner energy projects in the country.
NDTV – Dettol have been working towards a clean and healthy India since 2014 via the Banega Swachh India initiative, which is helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. The campaign aims to highlight the inter-dependency of humans and the environment, and of humans on one another with the focus on One Health, One Planet, One Future – Leaving No One Behind. It stresses on the need to take care of, and consider, everyone’s health in India – especially vulnerable communities – the LGBTQ population, indigenous people, India’s different tribes, ethnic and linguistic minorities, people with disabilities, migrants, geographically remote populations, gender and sexual minorities. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign will continue to raise awareness on the same along with focussing on the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children, fight malnutrition, mental wellbeing, self care, science and health, adolescent health & gender awareness. Along with the health of people, the campaign has realised the need to also take care of the health of the eco-system. Our environment is fragile due to human activity, which is not only over-exploiting available resources, but also generating immense pollution as a result of using and extracting those resources. The imbalance has also led to immense biodiversity loss that has caused one of the biggest threats to human survival – climate change. It has now been described as a “code red for humanity.” The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollution, waste management, plastic ban, manual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene. Banega Swasth India will also be taking forward the dream of Swasth Bharat, the campaign feels that only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and the country can become a Swasth or healthy India.