The first Budget of Amrit Kaal, India’s 75th year of Independence, would be the final full-year Budget before the national elections in mid-2024. The Budget’s seven ‘Saptarishi’ priorities – inclusive development, reaching the last mile, infrastructure and investment, unleashing potential, green growth, youth power and financial sector – reemphasise the government’s priority to restoring growth normalcy while undertaking fiscal consolidation.
One of the key messages emerging was the intention to spur a movement towards an environmentally conscious lifestyle. India is strongly committed to achieving ‘panchamrit’ and net-zero carbon emissions by 2070 to usher in a green industrial and economic transition. This Budget expands on our commitment to green growth.
The Budget includes a massive capital outlay of Rs 35,000 crore for energy transition and net zero goals.
The recently launched national Green Hydrogen Mission, aimed at promoting the use of hydrogen as a clean and renewable energy source in the country, has just received `19,700 crore as a part of the national Budget. This will help the economy transition to a low-carbon intensity and reduce reliance on fossil fuel imports.
Another key component of the Budget was harnessing the strength of the youth to move the country forward. To empower the young and assist the ‘Amrit Peedhi’ in realising their aspirations, the government has developed the National Education Policy, which focuses on skilling, implementing economic policies that promote large-scale job creation and promoting entrepreneurial prospects.
The government is committed to this mission and has launched a scheme to skill lakhs of youngsters over the next three years with the goal of covering Industry 4.0 courses such as coding, AI, robotics, etc. This will further aid in job creation in the country.
Research and innovation in the pharma sector has received a boost through this Budget. India stands well placed to become stronger in the global pharma space both in development of medicines and in manufacture as evident during the pandemic.
The Budget has touched every critical facet of national development. The focus on making agriculture more eco-friendly and the substantial allocation for biogas development are excellent initiatives that will strengthen a core competency lying untapped in India. The changes to fertiliser manufacturing, making it more balanced from an environmental perspective, displays India’s resolve in improving its carbon footprint. The focus on becoming the global hub for millets and the infrastructure to make it happen are brilliantly thought out.
The announcement of a special project in Ladakh for renewable energy at an outlay of Rs 20,000 crore is another outstanding initiative that can have far reaching positive impact on the energy transition. Replacing old polluting government vehicles is also likely to have far reaching impact on our march towards cleaner air.
Despite the challenging economic environment, the finance minister has presented a forward-thinking Budget. Whether it is a greater emphasis on inclusive development, a commitment to infrastructure, or unleashing the potential of the youth, the steps proposed in the Union Budget are likely to assure sustainable growth in the coming months and years.
The author is a chairman at RPG Enterprises.