Arun Jaitley
Arun Jaitley's Union Budget on Thursday failed to reflect Modi-government's primary agenda to develop India within eight years.Reuters

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley's budget on Thursday neither seems to be in favour of the poor nor it looked like a move towards rural development, with ₹92,398 crore less allocation than the 2013-14 budget.

Jaitley announced his first Union Budget on Thursday, which was lacking proposals for the below poverty line population of India, which according to the United Nations recent report is 394.8 million. Even Prime Minister's Economic Advisory Council Chairman C Rangarajan's report suggested an increase of 93.2 million poor to 363 million.

The Modi-government's agenda to place India among the developed nations by 2022 seem to linger around in the absence of plenty of allocations against increased statistics of the poor in India.

The budget proposed on Thursday allocates ₹8,000 crore under the rural housing scheme or Indira Awaas Yojana for the below poverty line (BPL) people against ₹15,184 crore allocated when P Chidambaram was the Finance Minister under the UPA government regime in 2013.

From the UN report, it is evident that the previous allocation was either insufficient or lacked proper implementation, which is enough to create uncertainity about NDA government's aim to eliminate poverty with almost half the allocated amount from the last budget. 

The Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojna meant to provide free insurance to BPL people, both in private and government hospitals, have no mention either in this budget or in the last years' budget. However, Chidambaram proposed to extend this facility to rickshaw, auto rickshaw, taxi drivers, sanitation workers, rag pickers and mine workers.

However, previous year's budget allocated a sum of ₹21,239 crore for the National Rural Health Mission combined with urban mission, while Jaitley's budget proposes to set up 15 Model Rural Health Research Centres.

Jaitley has already proposed to introduce Shyama Prasad Mukherji Rurban Mission, which will help develop infrastructure in the rural areas including economic activities and skill development.

Allocation Differences in Rural Programmes

Jaitley's budget allocation for the poor and the rural together is almost one-fourth of what Chidambaram's ministry allocated in 2013.

Jaitley proposed ₹3600 crore for drinking water, whereas Chidambaram had allocated ₹16,660 crore for both drinking water and sanitation—which looms nowhere in the former's budget. Except for 15 Health Research Centers, there is no mention of allocation in the rural health sector, for which Chidambaram had proposed ₹21,239 crore.

The budget allocation proposal for MGNREGA last year was ₹33,000 crore while this year Jaitley just proposed to implement the scheme more productively. The Housing scheme got ₹15,184 crore in 2013 which has been reduced by almost half to ₹8,000 crore.

For the development of farmers, Jaitley announced ₹1,000 crore for various irrigation plan under Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sichayin Yojana, while Chidambaram had proposed ₹12,204 crore for the Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana.

The Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana too has witnessed a fall in the allocation to ₹14,389 crore from ₹21,700 during Chidambaram's time.

Whereas, allocation for Rural Development Ministry in 2013-14 budget was increased by ₹80,194 crore, the same has been reduced by almost similar amount in 2014-15 budget, when the NDA government has set a target to attain development within eight years.

Extremely short budgetary allocation for upliftment of 394.8 million poor seems to be too difficult to achieve within such a short period, even if it's a startup budget.