#Budget2019: Government Aims For Rural Industrialization
In the next 5 years, the government is aiming to build one lakh digital villages
The day has been buzzing with the chatters of the budget. As the Interim Finance Minister Piyush Goyal entered the parliament with his treasured brown briefcase containing the future, possible, of India’s economic expenditures and revenues, sops and allocations, schemes and reliefs, hearts of Indians starting beating faster than usual with the anticipation of what the government has in store for them.
With general elections just around the corner, the government played its safest bet by covering the major areas of concern. From farmers to fisheries, entertainment and cinema, healthcare and banking, the budget discussed the past achievements and future goals for almost every major sector. Even the salaried class population which had least expectations from the presentation was in for a surprise.
In a welcome move, the Indian government has increased the threshold for taxable annual income to INR 5 lakh whereas the standard tax deduction for salaried people has been raised from INR 40,000 to INR 50,000. As usual, the majority of the budget was focused on farmers and rural welfare. Rural population contributes to a major portion of India’s economy and hence, these positive announcements are slated to work in its favour:
Digital India initiative by the Indian government was aimed at making India a 'digitally empowered economy'. During his address, Goyal boasted that India has made significant progress in the delivery of mobile data services, the cost of which is possibly the lowest in the world today.
Not just the urban spaces but the internet has penetrated into the rural boundaries too, leading to the creation of digital villages. The initiative was launched last year with the target of connecting 700 villages with Wi-Fi access by the end of 2018.
In the next 5 years, the government is aiming to build one lakh digital villages. The Common Service Centres (CSCs) will assist in the achievement of the humongous task creating digital infrastructure in the villages. The initiative was designed to assist rural residents with entrepreneurship opportunities such as setting up cottage industries.
Commenting on the step, the MD of Ethinos Digital Marketing, Siddharth Hegde said, “The setup of digital villages is going to drive digital inclusion. The low data costs are going to drive more for the rural population online and we are likely to see an explosion in vernacular content.”
Pradham Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana
The initiative which was launched by former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee in 2000 is rapidly bringing the weathered out roads in rural and backward areas back to live while developing new ones. The centrally sponsored scheme has been among the most hailed initiatives by NDA.
"Construction of rural roads has increased three times during the last five years,” Goyal said during the budget. To further push the development of rural infrastructure, the government has allocated INR 19,000 crore for the scheme against last year’s revised estimate of INR 15,500 crore.
The real aim behind the scheme was to connect “unconnected villages” in India. “About 14.80 lakh habitats have been connected with pucca roads and poor children who used to earlier walk through broken lanes have now buses coming to their villages,” Goyal said.
“This continuation in infrastructure development is in the right direction to push road connectivity which shall enable last mile connectivity, benefiting the remotest corner of the country,” stated Amit Kumar Singh, VP, Products & Digital Marketing, Travelyaari.
PM Kisan Samman Nidhi
With the rural youth shifting focus to tertiary space, farming has become a neglected space. Farmers have been living under vulnerable circumstances due to the lack of affordable loans. The government has been constantly making efforts to revive the power of farmers in the country.
To further ensure assured income support to marginal and small farmers, Goyal announced the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi (PM-KISAN) scheme - the programme will provide INR 6,000 as assured income to vulnerable landholding farmer families, with cultivable land up to two hectares.
Hailing the move, Kumar Abhishek, CEO & Co-founder, ToneTag suggested, “With the central government giving INR 6,000 assured income, it will be a great relief for farmers if the state government also contributes INR 6,000 against farm loan waivers.”
An outlay of INR 75,000 crore has been proposed for the scheme which is estimated to benefit 12 crore farmers. “PM-KISAN would pave the way for the farmers to earn and live a respectable living,” Goyal added. The programme would be effective on a retrospective basis from December 1, 2018.
Kisan Credit Card
Considering the lack of requests for Kisan Credit Card – a scheme that allows farmers to have quick and timely access to affordable credit, due to the cumbersome procedure for applications, the government has simplified it.
"To ensure the provision of easy and concessional credit and to bring all farmers under KCC fold, our Government has decided to initiate a comprehensive drive with a simplified application form," Goyal said.
The government has proposed 2 per cent interest subvention against loan availed through Kisan Credit Card in case of farmers engaged in animal husbandry and fisheries. They will also get 3 per cent incentive over and above it if they repay their loans within the stipulated time frame.
India is supposedly the second-largest fish-producing nation in the world, accounting for 6.3 per cent of the total global production with an annual growth of over 7 per cent in recent years. Hence, a separate department of fisheries was proposed by the government.
Anshuman Magazine, Chairman & CEO, India, South East Asia, Middle East & Africa, CBRE feels that the budget was focused on, “creation of an economy where villages and smaller towns play a key role in national development.”
MNREGA & More
Not too long ago, rural labourers were crying foul for not getting their MNREGA wages on time. The government used the budget to enhance their livelihood security by announcing the allocation of INR 60,000 crore for the scheme. The Interim Finance Minister added that if needed, the amount would be increased.
Additionally, the government claims to have electrified 2.5 crore rural households in the last 5 years. Goyal didn’t forget to announce Rashtriya Kamdhenu Aayog - a scheme for enhancing the productivity of cows by sustainable genetic up-gradation. The allocation of funds for Rashtriya Gokul Mission has been increased to INR 750 crore in the current year.