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Today, you will read General Awareness Topic:
"Why our union budget remains a political exercise and we are unable to take cue from USA / England / Singapore / China?"
Every year, India’s union budget draws both criticism and applause from the public for various reasons. This year, P Chidambaram’s union budget received mixed reviews, forcing the common man to wonder if there is anything to gain from the union budget after all. Every year, politicians come up with a union budget that seems less objective than the last, forcing us to contemplate if politicians are chalking out a union budget plan for themselves or for the welfare of the people. So far, India has not been able to come up with the ‘perfect’ union budget that future leaders can emulate and look up to. So, our union budget remains a political exercise, where every year, we add different ingredients to the union budget recipe to find out what really works for us.
This year, P Chidambaram released the Union Budget 2013-2014, once again with no benefits to the common man. According to the union budget, those earning below Rs 5 lakhs per annum may be able to enjoy tax relief. On the other hand, those earning more than Rs 1 crore per annum may have to pay a temporary surcharge of 10 percent of their income. Owning mobile phones and eating at restaurants may become more expensive.
The introduction of the all-women public sector bank is by above all, ludicrous, since there are no real benefits to a consumer and the economy by large. In fact, it is only an attempt to appease women since there has been uproar about women’s safety in the past few months. Although P Chidambaram claims that this union budget will curb inflation in the long run, immediate benefits to the common man seem negligible.
Every year, politicians claim they will bring inflation down through changes in the budget, and every year, we see the common man suffering since the government does not view the short-term welfare of the citizen as a priority. So, citizens end up being losers in the short term and the long term since inflation never seems to be curbed. Why is that we fail to learn from our mistakes and take cue from other developing and developed countries that have done well in the economic arena? This is because the Indian government, in many aspects, is short-sighted.
India can learn a great deal from Singapore with regard to women friendly tax policies. Instead of investing in the all-women public sector bank, the Indian government should look into the provision of child relief for working mothers. In Singapore, if grandparents take care of children below the age of 12, working mothers can avail additional tax benefits. Since there is an increase in the number of working women in India, policies like those implemented in Singapore will be beneficial in the Indian context too. Companies that hire mothers or women who return to their careers after maternity leave should also get tax benefits. These are the tangible benefits that India should focus on, which will benefit the economy too.
In the education sector, India can take a few positive points from the US, China and England. What these three countries have in common are world-class universities. This is what India is lacking. In the union budget, our finance minister allocated grants to students in universities from low-income families. However, nothing was mentioned about infrastructure development. Harvard, Cambridge, and Peking universities are world’s leading educational institutes. What sets them apart from Indian universities? It is world-class facilities with international collaborations. To ensure students from all around the world flock to Indian universities, it is important to set aside funds for the development of infrastructure and curriculum in universities.
There is a lot to learn from countries around us. Countries that were once far behind India in terms of development has moved ahead in the competition. Instead of focusing on areas that don’t affect the common man or the economy, India should be far-sighted and look into areas that will get the country back into the global competition. India should learn from its past mistakes, instead of repeating the same mistakes year after year. Our union budget is no longer a mere political exercise; a billion lives depend on it. So, it is time for India to get serious and look into the welfare of its citizens.