Ahead of the Union Budget being announced later this week, Visiting Senior Fellow, Shankkar Aiyar writes in the New Indian Express on the previous Budgets of the current government. Excerpts:
"The quest in 2019 is to assuage farmers. Distress in agriculture is not new. The huge disparity in rural and urban per capita incomes is evidence enough. Political parties tend to treat agriculture as a charity case whereas agriculture, as this column has repeated, needs to be liberated and provided with access to markets and credit (http://bit.ly/24uW8bm). The institution of e-NAM or Amul II could help, but governmentalized structures daunt the most vulnerable—farmers dealing in perishables are expected to classify/certify moisture levels. Opening up contract farming can bridge capacity issues, but the model law on contract farming promised in February 2017 is yet to be adopted by states.
The need to improve living conditions and provide human resources to run panchayats and municipalities could be leveraged to create employment and growth, and the challenge is an opportunity. Indeed, the 2014 manifesto listed empowering panchayats with funds and functions as a goal. Three years later, Budget 2017 said panchayat raj institutions lacked human resources to implement schemes, and announced a programme of “human resource reforms for results” for this purpose. What should have been a priority is yet policy in the works..."
Read the whole article here.