An important element of the Budget commented on by analysts is the transformation of India into what may be described as a new age welfare state. It has been partly an evolution but also, during the two BJP stints in power, a directed move towards delivering services to the people. It has not just been providing ‘make work’ employment such as MNREGA, which was considered transformative in the earlier pseudo-socialist model, but seeking to enable all sections of society to achieve their aspirations. This requires a comprehensive approach that has to be carefully crafted according to the response and level of success. Every section of society in every region has its specific requirements that have to be met, not just notionally, but in a manner that results in outcomes.
It is also important to know that the modalities too have changed from the established patterns of the past. Technology today has enormous potential to provide solutions in far cheaper and effective ways as compared to earlier. These have not just to be anticipated but also improvised to serve the purpose. It only requires that the right goals be identified with the necessary sincerity. On the face of it, that should not be so hard, but so many of today’s leaders are focused entirely on politics and winning elections instead of doing what they are actually supposed to do. Too many of them operate on the basis of outdated assumptions, thereby impeding the nation’s progress. Increasingly they are punished at the hustings for this by the electorate. Instead of seeing the reality and changing their approach, they choose to blame the system.
India’s challenges are so complex that they require a highly sophisticated and original approach. Some of this has been witnessed in the carefully constructed budget presented by Finance Minister Sitharaman. This has been realised by the opposition, which is why instead of discussing the budget, it has chosen to raise a storm over the financial crisis facing a private entity. There may be concern for the shareholders who may have suffered losses, but the real desire is to attack someone they believe is close to the ruling dispensation. And, the government will move on unperturbed, pleased that the opposition is once again tilting at windmills. If India is to do even better, it requires a higher quality opposition. That is an element of good governance, unfortunately, that Sitharaman’s budget cannot provide.