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2nd February 2024 (10 Topics)

The problem of moving attention away from services


The perpetuation of inequalities is aggravated by the ongoing neglect of the social sector, especially considering the lack of lucrative employment opportunities and the imminent job crisis.

Poverty and Income

  • Multidimensional Poverty Claims: The Finance Minister asserted that 25 crore people were lifted out of multidimensional poverty (MPI) in the last decade, but MPI's limitations were acknowledged.
  • Misleading Income Growth Claims: The Budget claimed a 50% average real income increase, but it was criticized for not addressing income distribution issues, with evidence suggesting stagnant real wages.
  • Unsettled Employment Scenario: Despite optimistic budget statements, the report highlighted distress in the job market, especially with a rise in agriculture employment and low wages under MGNREGS.

Demand and Allocations for Social Sector

  • MGNREGS Budget Discrepancies:Despite high demand, MGNREGS faces issues, reflected in a higher Revised Estimate (RE) for 2023-24, indicating potential underfunding for the program.
  • Stagnant Social Sector Budgets:The allocations for social sector schemes, including education and health, saw nominal increases, but real-term reductions over the past decade persist, exacerbating inequalities.
  • Neglect of Basic Services:The Budget's focus on high-profile schemes neglects essential services like education and health, contributing to poor infrastructure and perpetuating social inequalities.

 Aspirations vs. Realities

  • Unrealized Economic Well-being: The Budget emphasized improved living and earning conditions, but evidence suggests depressed incomes for the majority, with women's increased participation potentially indicating distress.
  • Divergence in Budget Claims and Ground Reality: The Budget's positive tone clashes with poor growth in private consumption expenditure and the reversal of structural employment changes, pointing towards economic challenges.
  • Inadequate Focus on Social Sectors: Neglecting social sector development exacerbates inequalities, hindering India's true aspiration, especially in the absence of gainful employment opportunities and a looming job crisis.
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