Budget 2014-15 : Important Modi-fications all along

And so, amidst sluggish growth rates over the past few quarters, spiralling inflation threatening to break the back of domestic household savings, plateauing graphs of employment creation, and a neck-throttling fiscal deficit that threatens India’s credit-worthiness and subsequent investor disdainty, India’s main-man Modi got his act right again. Well, almost.
        Been forced to trudge along on a tightrope ever since attaining India’s highest & hottest seat, Modi, and his ever so keenly anticipated budget was always crucial as to how the 2-month old NDA government envisaged on tackling the macro challenge of booming inflation on the one hand, and spurring growth so as to increase individualistic welfare at micro-levels on the other. And needless to say, it ticked nearly all boxes, thereby re-instating the trust that Indian masses seem to have finally found with their government, after a long & rather instable period of conglomerative indecisiveness.
      First things first. All eyes were fixated to see whether tax reforms would be initiated so as to bring them in sync with global standards. And sure enough, the Arun Jaitley-led ministry has a new policy up its sleeve. Focusing to procure revenue more from indirect portals, the budget left more disposable income in the hands of salaried workers. The basic exemption limit has now been increased by Rs.50,000 across each class, thereby bringing it to Rs.2,50,000 for the working class & Rs.3,00,000 for senior citizens. However, existing tax slabs have been rendered unaltered, thereby resulting in more savings & potentially more investments by domestic households.
       However, at the crux of it, the budget, as envisioned by leading economists, is a whole-hearted attempt at creating a pan-India environment of corporate efficiency, which is now being inculcated in the social fibre of the nation. Aiming at seducing investors from all around the globe, the NDA hereby increased FDI limit in key sectors like defence & insurance to 49% from the current 26%. And, in yet another move initiated at ameliorating India’s standard of living across classes, the government sought to give various sops to all & sundry, thereby reducing or even abolishing tax tariffs on consumer mass durables like clothing, electronic gadgets like PC’s, laptops, tablets, LED/LCD TV’s as well as others like soaps, footwear, water purifiers, etc. This clearly indicates a pugnacious approach, aimed at conjuring nation-wide developmental tendencies, a realm epitomized furthermore by way of other features of the budget like cheaper credit to farmers, promises of a more efficient food security & subsidies implementation, skill-enhancing & developing programmes for the youth, and various other sops for the corporate biz-world. Moreover, the real masterpiece has been the increase in tax rates of goods such as liquor, tobacco & cigarettes. This 2-pronged attack not only deters potential addicts from giving in to their instincts, but also ensures a great amount of revenue from the current addicts who wouldn’t, in all probability, be able to give up the highs of their addiction on account of a tax increase. Indeed, trust Modi to indulge in this kind of chicanery with the mind!
       However, one of the most important scenarios that this budget has failed to take into consideration, was the spate of farmer suicides catapulting in eastern & central Maharashtrian regions of Vidarbha & Marathwada, driven by drought-like situations year after year, even in times of incessant rainfall elsewhere, as also by their continuing indebtedness & inability to pay off their landowners. This has really threatened to take the country down into an abyss of cotton & fabric shortage, as well as inadequacy of staple veggies like onion, tomato & potato, which form the basic meal for an average Indian family. This is probably the most sore point of an otherwise upto-the-mark budget.
       To put things into a more streamlined perspective, so as to facilitate quick opinions on the outset, the budget is an attempt to ostracize the demons out of India, by a single wave of the wand. Sure, Modi may be construed upon as the wizard in possession of The Elder Wand, but he sure still needs to be able to conjure the right spell, at the right moment. Till then, the horcruxes of evil, namely unemployment, stagnant growth, under-development, fiscal deficit, rampant inflation, income inequality & low standard of living, will continue to lurk around, in the deathly hallow that is the Indian Economy.


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