A student trained in economics and political economy knows what to read on a reasonable and good budget. First, one needs to understand how best a government plans to use its resources and generate revenue. Secondly, what are the plans of the government for the expenditure of this revenue and resources? Thirdly, what are the long term projects and policies which can fundamentally infuse dynamism into the economy and general well-being of the people? Finally, if there is a gap between the government’s earnings and expenditure and which leads to borrowing, is the government in a position to pay back this loan in a reasonable manner.
Cheerleading “economics” year after year, we have ended up creating an unequal country which has few parallels. About a third of the fruits of economic growth experienced since 1980 has gone to the richest 1% of the country. Hardly any other country has seen such yawning gap between the rich and the rest. The degree of inequality has been growing. In the beginning of this century the top 10% of the population cornered 40% of the income. By 2014 their share rose to 50%.
The BJP, like all parties of the far right, claims to serve the peoples’ interest. Its success lies in getting its slogans right. In reality it serves only the rich. In the last two years, the wealth of India’s richest 1% population increased from 58% in 2016 to 73% of the total wealth generated in the country in 2017, according to a new survey by an international rights group.
Every year, in March, I have to listen to the same pseudo-technical verbosity at State and Central levels being reported across various media outlets. The Budget Session, it is clear from all the attention and scrutiny it receives, is by far the single most important Parliamentary session there is, and rightly so. Economic activities are the life-blood of society. Here in Meghalaya sadly, the only sheets we know are bed-sheets (which we buy with money which isn’t ours). The grim reality of the state balance sheets has not roused us from our slumber.
It was probably the longest Budget Speech ever in Assam. But this simply reminds us of the proverb “an empty vessel makes a lot of sound”.