With the development that the world has seen in the last few decades, lives around the world have seen rapid positive changes and upliftment, but new challenges have also emerged, some of which can only be seen as the byproduct of development. In the current times, climate change and poverty are probably some of the biggest ‘byproducts’ that we need to tackle and, of course, the pandemic remains a major challenge as well. If there is one umbrella that we can put all these challenges under, this umbrella would be called the challenge of sustainable growth, for sustainability stands for growth that is in harmony with the environment, one that takes everyone forward together, and one that quickly adjusts to an unexpected crisis.

A budget, as understood literally, is a plan of how to spend an amount of money for a time period. When we introduce the governance aspect to it, the budget becomes a statement by a government saying how much money it plans to spend on particular things in the next year and how it plans to collect money. And finally, when we put a budget in the context of the development of a nation and the world at large, a budget becomes a window to the progress the people of a nation are set to see in the coming financial year.

India’s budgets have focused on sustainability in the most holistic sense and the budget of 2022, should be seen as a peek into this sustainable journey and the road ahead. While renewable energy, the most obvious face of sustainable development, has seen immense progress in India, it is the more subtle forms of sustainable development that have stood out in the budget allocations India has seen in the past few years.

From the development of agriculture, a sector that is widely recognized as the key to poverty alleviation in India, to improving the lives of migrant labour in the country, to business reforms that affect the masses, and to the massive outlays for digitisation, India’s budgets have demonstrated what sustainable development should like in the modern times.

The budget of 2021, for instance, put agriculture, farmers' welfare and rural India, migrant labour, and financial inclusion topics under the broad theme of ‘Inclusive Development for Aspirational India’. This only states the importance that the Indian government places on inclusive development, a key factor in achieving sustainable development. The section spoke of the MSP regime which has undergone a sea change to assure a price that is at least 1.5 times the cost of production across all commodities.  The allocation to the Rural Infrastructure Development Fund increased from 30,000 crores to 40,000 crores.  One Nation One Ration Card scheme through which beneficiaries can claim their rations anywhere in the country also found a mention in under this section and so did the launch of a portal that will collect relevant information on gig, building, and construction-workers among others. This will help formulate health, housing, skill, insurance, credit, and food schemes for migrant workers. 

As for the 2020 budget, working towards taking the country forward to the next level of health, prosperity, and well-being, striving to bring ease of living for every citizen, achievement of seamless delivery of services through digital governance, and improvement in physical quality of life through the National Infrastructure Pipeline (NIP) were just some of the commitments made by the government in the budget of 2020. 

The budget of 2019 permitted 100 per cent foreign direct investment (FDI) for insurance intermediaries which aimed at increasing the coverage of insurance in the country.  The budget speech also informed the nation of the success of the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY) which achieved all-weather connectivity for over 97 per cent of eligible and feasible habitations of rural India.  

While the list of announcements and allocations can go on when we closely look at India’s past budgets, the point remains that India went way ahead of renewable energy when it comes to sustainable development and India’s past budgets are like a story of achieving inclusive growth in a country known for its massive diversity. In this light, whatever may be the specifics of the budget of 2022, it will surely be the next chapter of this story.

Hon’ble Prime Minister, in his speech at Davos Agenda 2022 summit, made it clear that India’s growth in the next 25 years will be clean, green, sustainable, and reliable, and in this sense, the past budgets, through their allocations, certainly built a strong base for these 25 years of sustainable growth. A growth that does not just leverage renewable resources but distributes these resources equally among the citizens and a growth that plays a catalyst role in the larger development of a globalized world.    

#GrowthforAll #CleanGreen #SustainableReliable

This article is authored by Karishma Sharma.

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