Addressing these challenges, on 15 August 2019, Prime Minister, in his Independence Day address to the nation, announced ‘Jal Jeevan Mission (JJM) Har Ghar Jal, to be implemented in partnership with States, to make provision of lap water connection to every rural home and public institution by 2024. The focus is on assured and regular potable water service delivery at household level’, i.e., water supply in adequate quantify (55 litres per person per day) of prescribed quality (as per Bureau of Indian Standards) with sufficient pressure on a regular and long-term basis.
In August 2019, at the time of the announcement of JJM, out of total 18,70 crore rural households, only 3.23 crore (17%) households were having provision of tap water supply. However, in the last two years, the number of households has also increased, which must be considered while developing a strategy. As on dale, there are over 19.32 crore rural households across 21 different edapho-climatic conditions in the country, in India, conditions vary from cold desert to hot desert, Indo-Gangetic plains to mountains, vast alluvial mainland to forested areas, more than 7,000 km long coastal bell, to many islands. Each such region has its own unique challenges. India, as a country with a 5,000 years old civilisation possesses huge traditional knowledge, wisdom, and practices to overcome these challenges. However, with increasing population, the impact of climate change, and competing demand for water from various sectors in a fast-developing economy, many regions have started facing water scarcity, which impacts women and girls the most, as in many regions, managing home and fetching water for domestic use is considered to be their responsibility. During summer in many drought-prone and desert areas, women accompanied by their daughters walk long distances just to secure a minimal amount of potable water. Adding to this challenge is the fluctuation in rainfall patterns with western Rajasthan receiving 100 mm per year to Mawsynram in North East receiving 11,000 mm annual rainfall. India has the highest groundwater consumption in the world with about 10 abstraction structures every km, which indicates the over-exploitation of groundwater sources. As per the Central Ground Water Board report, 2017, about 50% of groundwater sources either have quality or quantity issues, which means simple in-situ water supply systems based on groundwater may not work on a long-term basis in half of the country. Further, it is projected that water demand will be twice its availability by 2030 and it is questionable considering that the per capita annual freshwater availability is likely to decline to 1,293 cu.m by 2025, which is very close to the water scarcity line. Thus, with the launch of JJM in 2019 to ensure clean tap water supply to the remaining 83% of rural households, as well as new households on a long-term basis, water supply infrastructure is to be created by providing functional household tap connections within 5 years along with upgrading existing water supply systems to make them JJM compliant is a huge challenge. This also means that drinking water sources have to be strengthened and grey water has to be treated and reused. The scale of the work is so huge that the number of tap water connections to be provided every year is equivalent to the total number of taps provided accumulatively in the last 70 years.
JJM is about achieving long term drinking water security in such a way, so as to avoid making emergency arrangements through the deployment of tankers or trains, handpump installation, etc., in any village. It envisions working with a ‘utility-mindset’ and making use of information technology at the village level, empowering and enabling local communities. To ensure long term assured service delivery to every home and executing the work in a time bound manner with transparency, involving the village community is the key. The Gram Panchayat or its sub-community is the key. The Gram Panchayat or its sub-committee, i.e., Village Water and Sanitation Committee (VWSC)/Pani Samiti, etc., are to shoulder key responsibility in planning, implementation, management, operation, and maintenance of in- village water supply system. A typical VWSC consists of 10-15 members with 50% representation of women and proportionate representation of weaker sections of society. This committee is empowered under the Panchayati Raj Act so that they are able to shoulder the assigned responsibility. As on date, about 5 lakh VWSCs/Pani Samitis have been constituted and made functional, thus signifying the robust institutional mechanism being established at the grassroots. Every village is being taken up as a unit so that they become water secure, for which a 5- year Village Action Plan (VAP) co-terminus with the 15lh Finance Commission period (2021- 22 to 2025-26) is being prepared through the participation of the local community, focusing on four key components, i.e., i) augmentation and strengthening of local drinking water sources; ii) in village water supply infrastructure to make provision of tap water supply to every home and public institution like schools, anganwadi centres, ashramshalas, Health and Wellness Centres (HWCs), community centres, gram panchayat buildings, etc.; iii) greywater collection, treatment, and reuse; and iv) regular Operations and Maintenance (O&M) of water supply systems. To strengthen and empower the Pachayats to shoulder the responsibility of long term operation and maintenance, Rs. 1.42 lakh crore tied grants for water and sanitation is made available from 2021-22 to 2025-26, in addition to Rs. 30,375 crore provided in 2020-21. This assured funding to rural local bodies and panchayats is a game changer in decentralisation and preparing them to shoulder the responsibility of assured water supply, improved sanitation, and hygiene in rural India. The long term success of JJM, i.e, assured piped water service delivery hinges on the functioning of Gram panchayat as a public utility, thus bringing a change in their mindset. This decentralized approach for involving, preparing developing, and empowering the local village community is the most crucial part of JJM. The GPs/VWSCs are being trained to plan and utilise the fund judiciously to ensure water service delivery and improved sanitation in villages, as well as to inculcate the habit of contributing towards water user charges for the long-term sustainability of the system. JJM is a decentralised, demand-driven, and community-managed programme that aims to instill a ‘sense of ownership’ among the local community. It may not be feasible for State Governments/ Departments or their parastatal organisation to manage water supply to every household, and therefore the role of Gram Panchayat and/or its sub-committee has become critical. Moreover, the Panchayats have a constitutional mandate to manage the drinking water supply in villages. State Government and its Public Health engineering Departments are playing the role of a facilitator. This approach will bring long term sustainability in the sector and is essentially a concerted effort to transform every village in the country into a fully self reliant, i.e, Atmanirbhar villages in consonance with the principles of Mahatma Gandhi’s ‘Gram Swaraj’. Under JJM, to promote ownership among village communities for in village piped water supply infrastructure, communities will contribute 5% of the capital cost in the form of cash and/or kind and /or labour in hilly and forested areas such as the North East and Himalayan States, and 10% in other villages. After the commissioning of the Scheme, 10% of the capital expenditure will be given to the concerned GP or VWSC Pani Samiti as an incentive, which will serve as a revolving fund to meet the emergency repair and maintenance cost of the Scheme. Thus, the bottom-up approach is expected to ensure sustainability of sources, water supply systems, as well as financial sustainability.
To achieve the goal of JJM in a time-bound manner, a well-thought strategy has been developed and adopted. In villages with existing piped water supply system(s), all remaining households, and public institutions, viz. schools, AWCs, ashramshalas, PHCs/CHCs, wellness centres, community centres, GP building, etc., are being provided with tap water connections by taking up retrofitting / augmentation or existing water supply schemes, if needed, to make them JJM compliant. In villages where ground/surface water of good quality in sufficient quantity is available. Single Village Schemes (SVS) are being planned and executed, which is the most preferred option as it is easy to operate and maintain by the local community. In villages with adequate groundwater but having quality issues, water is being treated to remove contaminants, and/or a surface water based water supply scheme from a dependable source is planned. In water stressed, drought prone and desert areas, bulk water transfer, treatment plants, and distribution systems are being planned and executed with equal emphasis on strengthening of local drinking water sources to achieve long term water security, so that O&M expenses on water transfer/pumping are kept to the minimum. In isolated tribal hamlets / hilly / forested areas, stand alone solar based and/or gravity-based water supply systems are being given priority as such systems have low O&M expenses are easy to operate and maintain by the local community. Acknowledging the urgency to ensure potable tap water supply in difficult areas, priority has been accorded to water quality-affected habitations, villages falling in drought-prone A desert areas, Japanese Encephalitis/Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (JE/AES) and Aspirational Districts, SC/ST majority villages and Sansad Adarsh Gram Yojana (SAGY) villages. With a focus on better health and well-being of children, a campaign was started on ‘Gandhi Jayanti’ in 2020 to make the provision of piped water supply in schools, anganvadi centres, and ashramshulas for drinking, cooking, hand washing, and use in toilets. In view o f the scale of the work. JJM is being implemented truly in a mission mode, for which ‘change management' was brought in the system perceiving JJM as an opportunity for the entire nation as the present funding is available till 2024 and it is the bounden duty of every State to provide better service to citizens to improve their lives. Under JJM, every' State/UT prepared a ‘saturation plan’ to achieve 100% coverage or ‘Har Ghar Jal’ status by incorporating these elements, followed by ‘Annual Action Plans.'
An effort has been made to bridge the urban-rural gaps in terms of services and facilities by focusing on implementation unserviced areas while ensuring that ‘no one is left out’, While it is a given or a common expectation in urban areas to have a 24*7 tap water supply, the aspiration is to ensure similar arrangements in rural areas as well. The only difference being the village community shares a common overhead tank, unlike the urban individual household tanks, Further, people should be able to drink water directly from the tap enhancing the ‘ease of living’ and completely removing the requirement for any domestic purification systems. This vision has been achieved by many advanced countries already and India is ready to ensure the same.
To ensure the availability of skilled human resources in villages and to carry out regular OAM, local youth arc being upskilled as masons, plumbers, electricians, motor mechanics, fitters, pump operators, etc. Also, five women in every village are being trained on using Field Test Kits (FTKs) to test the quality of water supplied, conduct sanitary surveys, and upload data on the JJM portal. Further, there is a boost in the manufacturing industry of pipes, motors, cement, steel, valves, faucets, etc. Employment opportunities are also increasing for the local youth in their own villages.
In line with the motto of Jal Jeevan Mission, i.e., ‘Building partnerships, Changing lives’, 185 organisations, viz. UN agencies, trusts, foundations, etc,, have been roped in as Sector Partners to dovetail their resources and efforts in achieving the collective goal of 'Har Ghar Jal’. For building the capacity, reorienting, and training of public health engineers, massive capacity building, training, and community mobilisation activities have been taken up, for which 104 reputed institutions in the country have been involved as Key Resource Centres (KRCs). About 14 thousand local NGOs, VOs, CBOs, women SHGs, etc., are also engaged by States as Implementation Support Agencies (ISAs) to handhold GPs/VWSCs/Pani Samitis. All these efforts are being made to make JJM a ‘Jan Andolan’ people’s movement. To build the capacity by providing learning opportunities to public health engineers, the ‘National Centre for Drinking Water, Sanitation and Quality (NCDWSQ)’ has been set up at Kolkata as an apex institution for Public Health Engineering (PHE). The institute will follow a ‘hub and spoke model’ and partner with the KRCs, two Centres of Excellence (CoE), and five Professor Chairs being set up across the country and work in the areas of training and capacity building, education, and academic programmes, research and innovation and outreach and consulting.
About 10 lakh women have been trained across villages signifying the mission-mode implementation of programme with an emphasis on ensuring water quality. Laboratories are being standardised and upgraded across the country. More than 2,000 water quality testing laboratories have been opened to the general public for testing their water samples at a nominal cost and one can also locate the nearby laboratory on Water Quality Management Information System (WQM1S). An innovation challenge is paving the way for portable water quality testing devices for use at domestic as well as village levels.
To leverage new technologies and bring innovative solutions, a Technical Committee under the chairmanship of Principal Scientific Advisor (PSA) to the Government of India comprising of State representatives, scientists, innovators, etc., has been constituted. To ensure transparency, accountability, effective fund utilisation, and assured service delivery, several steps have been undertaken to promote digital governance. The online JJM Dashboard in the public domain provides State/ UT, district, and village-wise progress and status of the provision of lap water supply in rural areas. Sensor- based IoT pilots are underway in more than 100 villages for automatic data capturing to measure and monitor the daily water supply. WQMIS has been developed by using the reports generated from water quality testing through FTKs as well as laboratories. With an outlay of Rs 3.6 lakh crore, JJM is not just about mere infrastructure creation, but the focus is on long- term assured ‘service delivery’. Thus, emphasising the software components, 2% and 5% of the fund is allocated to WQMS and support activities, viz. training, capacity building, JEC, third party inspection, handholding by ISAs, etc., respectively.
Understanding water availability and purpose, out of total available freshwater, about 85% is used for agricultural, 10% for industrial, and only about 5% is used for drinking and domestic purposes. All water is during a limited 10 to 40 rainy days or snowfall in the Upper Himalayas, and this water is stored either over the ground or under the ground, to be used during the whole year. Thus, just like food grains that need to be carefully stored and ensured that they are not spoilt, water is a finite resource that needs to be replenished every year and must be consumed judiciously without polluting the sources. Due to issues related to environmental conservation and anthropogenic factors, the construction of new dams to meet the increasing demand for water is becoming more and more difficult. Thus, to achieve water security, there is no choice except to focus on rainwater harvesting, recharge of aquifers, deepening of water bodies, proper storage, and efficient utilisation. It is even more important to collect water from precipitation and keep it clean for use considering that 256 out of the 734 districts are water-stressed already. This requires village communities, the users/owners to start water budgeting to understand and improve water- use efficiency by changing water usage patterns, shifting to less water-consuming crops, and/ or switching to micro-irrigation, i.e., drip and sprinkler systems. Even a small reduction in agricultural use will enhance water availability for drinking and domestic purposes, enhancing the longevity and functionality of water supply systems. Therefore, in 2019, a new Ministry of Jal Shakti was formed by integrating the two former ministries, i.e., water resources and water supply, to strengthen efforts for a holistic approach to the water sector. Further, to ‘make water everyone's business' and to make water conservation a top priority, ‘Jal Shakti Abhiyan', a time-bound mission-mode campaign was launched to accelerate asset creation and extensive communication to conserve water and bring long-term sustainability of sources. Water security, water conservation, and water-use efficiency have to become the priority in villages to ensure long-term sustainability. Convergence with schemes like MGNREGS, Atal Bhujal Yojana, Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana, etc., offers opportunities to dovetail resources at the village level. Further, India focused on ending open defecation first in order to protect the water bodies and to drive a large-scale positive behavioural change towards improved hygiene. Similarly, many initiatives such as Solid Liquid Waste Management (SLWM), plastic waste management, etc., are being promoted.
The mission is making all-out efforts and as a result, currently, about 9 crore (46%) rural households in the country have assured provision of clean tap water supply. Every rural household in 101 districts and 1.40 lakh villages is getting a clean tap water supply. Three States, viz. Goa, Haryana, Telangana, and three UTs, viz. Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Daman & Diu, Dadra & Nagar Haveli, and Puducherry have become ‘Har Ghar Jal’ States/UTs, This is the ‘speed and scale’ with which work under JJM is being carried out with undivided focus to improve the lives of people living in rural areas. India is a shining example on a global platform for its impactful WASH policies that are being driven on such a large scale while building a movement of behavioural change. India is now certainly in a position to transfer/ make available the knowledge/experience to other countries, especially the global south.
The next steps for JJM would also be to set up further robust institutions such as regulatory bodies, certification provisions, and learning opportunities for engineers as well as to keep innovating on sustainable technologies. There is a need to adopt innovative technology in the sector especially towards sewage treatment, in-situ combustion/energy production from human excreta, etc. in such a way to reduce the consumption of fresh water to flush tanks, often seen in urban areas. The gated communities/upcoming colonies should be provided with such new sustainable technologies to immediately own it up. With the massive deployment of sensor-based loT systems for measurement & monitoring of water supply, testing of water samples for quality and dashboard for data integration and analysis will ensure transparency, assured service delivery, and grievance redressal. The mission aims to integrate health data and water supply data to establish disease surveillance. Leveraging new technology, providing quick and updated information meets the aspirations of a new India. The vision is to build public utilities ensuring long-term assured service delivery and hoping that the linked sectors are also influenced by this approach. India is heading to a future where such public utilities will act as service centres in villages, be it for water supply or agriculture, etc., and moving towards overall improvement in economic prosperity.
In the recent past, the focus of Indian economy has been on inclusive development with emphasis on social sector, employment generation, low carbon footprints, and technology innovation. Though India's annual budget statements have addressed these issues comprehensively in the past few years, one cannot ignore the fact that challenges to lives and livelihoods have assumed unforeseen proportions globally with significant rise in vulnerabilities in India as well. The new economic policy has unfolded the following five features capturing the whole new narrative, which became evident not only in the budget of this year, but also of the past two years. These five key features are: delivering quality social sector development over quantitative outcomes; moving from entitlement to entrepreneurship approaches to support widespread livelihood generation; localisation of development; achieving low-carbon trajectory in economic growth; and leveraging digital and technological solutions. Though India’s annual budget statements have addressed these issues comprehensively in the past few years, one cannot ignore the fact that challenges to lives and livelihoods have assumed unforeseen proportions globally with significant rise in vulnerabilities in India as well. There is even stronger emphasis on India’s growing leadership on sustainability now. While the Government’s consistent efforts in the past few years for achieving quality economic growth, promoting entrepreneurship, and leveraging technologies provided some cushion and enabled faster recovery, there are immediate concerns that need short-term and long-term mitigation strategies for vigorously carrying forward the relief measures announced in the wake of the pandemic in 2020. The Government’s sharp focus on social infrastructure development in the last couple of years is reflected in the fact that the total budget allocation for major centrally sponsored schemes in areas of rural roads, housing, drinking water, sustainable urbanisation and transportation, and infrastructure for healthcare went up from around 19 per cent in 2019-20 (actual) to almost 33 per cent (BE) among all centrally sponsored schemes (Table 1), suggesting comprehensive perspective towards supporting inclusive recovery.
In order to strengthen infrastructural facilities, among others, there are provisions for telecommunication sector in general and 5G technology in particular, to enable growth and offer job opportunities. Further, there are sunrise opportunities for Artificial Intelligence, Geospatial Systems and Drones, Semiconductor and its ecosystem, space economy, genomics and pharmaceuticals, green energy, and clean mobility systems which hold immense potential for assisting sustainable development at a large scale and modernise the country. At the same time, they provide employment opportunities for youth, and make Indian industry more efficient and competitive. In this respect, the government has also promised supportive policies, light-touch regulations, facilitative actions to build domestic capacities, and promotion of R&D that would guide its approach. For R&D in these sunrise opportunities, in addition to the efforts of collaboration among academia, industry and public institutions, the government support has been ensured. As housing is an integral part of infrastructural development, it is expected that 80 lakh houses in 2022-23 would be completed for the identified eligible beneficiaries of PM Awas Yojana, both rural and urban. In this regard, the Central Government will work with the State Governments for reduction of time required for all land and construction-related approvals and promoting affordable housing for middle class and Economically Weaker Sections in urban areas. The financial sector regulators would be roped in for expanding access to capital along with reduction in cost of intermediation. Giving added momentum to development of North Eastern Region, a new scheme, namely Prime Minister’s Development Initiative for North-Eastern region, PM-DevINE, would be implemented through the North-Eastern Council to fund infrastructure, in the spirit of PM GatiShakti, and social development projects based on felt needs of the North-East. As border villages with sparse population, limited connectivity, and infrastructure often get left out from the development gains, such villages on the northern border would be covered under the new Vibrant Villages Programme. These would cover aspects such as construction of village infrastructure, housing, tourist centres, road connectivity, provisioning of decentralised renewable energy, Direct to Home access for Doordarshan and educational channels, and support for livelihood generation. For urban development, a high-level committee of reputed urban planners, urban economists and institutions would be formed to make recommendations on urban sector policies, capacity building, planning, implementation, and governance. For urban capacity building, support would be provided to the states. Also, modernisation of building by – laws, Town Planning Schemes (TPS), and Transit Oriented Development (TOD) would be implemented. The Central Government’s financial support for mass transit projects and AMRUT scheme will be leveraged for formulation of action plans and their implementation for facilitating TOD and TPS by the States. Strengthening urban planning and design, and to deliver certified training in these areas, five existing academic institutions in different regions will be designated as centres of excellence and each would also be provided endowment funds of Rs 250 crore. A1CTE would be tasked to improve syllabi, quality, and access of urban planning courses. The outlay for capital expenditure in the Union Budget is once again being stepped up sharply by 35.4 per cent from Rs 5.54 lakh crore in the current year to Rs 7.50 lakh crore in 2022-23. This has increased to more than 2.2 times the expenditure of 2019-20 and this outlay in 2022-23 will be 2.9 per cent of GDR With this investment taken together with the creation of capital assets through Grants-in-Aid to States, the ‘Effective Capital Expenditure’ of the Central Government is estimated at Rs 10.68 lakh crore in 2022-23, which will be about 4.1 per cent of GDP.
The budgetary allocation for the “Startup India Initiative in Higher Educational Institutions” within the Ministry of Education has been increased by 100 per cent from Rs 30 crores in 2021 -22 to Rs 60 crore. Further, dwelling on the subject of skill development and quality education, Startups will be promoted to facilitate ‘Drone Shakti’ through varied applications and for Drone-As-A-Service (DrAAS). In the realm of vocational courses, in order to promote crucial critical thinking skills and give space for creativity, it is proposed to set up 750 virtual labs in science and mathematics, and 75 skilling e-labs for simulated learning environment, would be set up. There is also a plan to develop high-quality e-contenl in all spoken languages for delivery via internet, mobile phones, TV, and radio through Digital Teachers for building a competitive mechanism for development of quality. It is also planned to set up e-content by the teachers for empowering and equipping students with digital tools of teaching and facilitating better learning outcomes. The plan for establishing a Digital University for providing access to students across the country for world- class quality universal education with personalised learning experience at their doorsteps. This would be made available in different Indian languages and ICT formats. The University is planned to be built on a networked hub-spoke model, with the hub building cutting-edge ICT expertise. Further, it is also envisaged that world-class foreign universities and institutions will be allowed in the GIFT City to offer courses in Financial Management, Fintech, Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics free from domestic regulations, for facilitating availability of high-end human resources for financial services and technology. Skilling programmes and partnership with the industry are being reoriented to promote continuous skilling avenues, sustainability, and employability. The National Skill Qualification Framework (NSQF) will be aligned with dynamic industry needs. Digital Ecosystem for Skilling and Livelihood- the DESH-Stack e-portal will be launched. This aims to empower citizens to skill, re-skill, or up-skill through on-line training. It will also provide API-based trusted skill credentials, payment and discovery layers to find relevant jobs and entrepreneurial opportunities. Owing to the pandemic-induced closure of schools, our children, particularly in the rural areas, and those from Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes and other weaker sections, lost almost two years of formal education, mostly in government schools. Therefore, imparting supplementary teaching and building a resilient mechanism for education delivery is also envisaged. In this regard, ‘One Class-One Channel’ programme of PM eVIDYA would be expanded from 12 to 200 TV channels for enabling all States to provide supplementary education for classes 1-12 in regional languages.
In the wake of the Covid-19, and in order to strengthen infrastructure in health and associated sectors, the Government has continued with the enhanced support that is necessary for these sectors at this point as given in Table 2. Under Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission, an open platform for the National Digital Health Ecosystem would be rolled out. It would consist of digital registries of health providers and health facilities, unique health identity, consent framework, and universal access to health facilities. An innovative idea of having an open platform for the National Digital Health Ecosystem is in pipeline which would comprise of digital registries of health providers and health facilities, unique health identity consent framework, and universal access to health facilities has come up. Further, Covid-19 health crisis accentuated mental health problems of people of all ages, for providing better access to quality mental health, whereas counselling and care services, a ‘National Tele Mental Health Programme’ is being planned with a network of 23 tele mental health Centres of Excellence. National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (NIMHANS) would be the nodal centre and International Institute of Information Technology- Bangalore (IIITB) would provide technology support. It also needs to be underscored that India as always stood up for collective self-reliance. Therefore, development experience of Atmanirbhar Bharat can definitely help in paradigm shift in development of global cooperation for promoting collective self reliance.
Given the rebounding GDP growth of 9.2% in 2021-22 with controlled inflation at 5.6% and Fiscal Deficit at 6.9%, India has moved to a higher plane amongst leading economies of the world in every sphere of its activity. Investment in infrastructure viz. Roads, Railways, Airways, Ports, Mass Transport, Waterways, Defence corridors, and Logistics Infrastructure would enhance the productivity of the economy, generate huge employment and help revive the economy at a faster pace. This will add wings to India not only to move at fast track but fly high meeting the challenges of poverty, unemployment, and real effective growth improving the standard of living in light of minimum government and maximum governance. The Government in this year’s budget has rightly identified objectives, assigned priorities, recognised constraints, the technological innovations in the world economy the needs of Indians and Indian industry. Transparency, Accountability, and Sustainability through Digital Influx in all spheres of public and private lives and livelihoods will add wings to India not only to move at fast track but fly high meeting the challenges of poverty, unemployment, and real effective growth, improving the standard of living in light of minimum government and maximum governance. Employment generation; infrastructure boosting, inducing inclusive development with Atmanirbharta, transparency and digitalisation; repealing 25,000 compliances and 1,486 union laws towards ease of doing business, bringing stability in tax structure while targeting to control evasion or avoidance of taxes by imposing tax on virtual assets and bringing clarity through the announcement of RBI issuing Digital Currency in 2022-23 will help India increase productive efficiency and global competitiveness of the economy. While containing inflation in medium term, facilitating ease of doing business and ease of living in tune with the latest technological developments will take the economy to a higher platform. This would directly benefit India, its youth, women, farmers, scheduled castes, scheduled tribes, senior citizens, BPL families, MSMEs, the “have nots”, and those suffering from the ill effects of Covid-19. Transformation, Employment, and Jobs The government’s initiatives will result in economic transformation through large investments, increased capital expenditure by 35.4% to Rs 7.50 lakh crore, enhanced infrastructure giving ‘Gati’ to the nation by development of National Highways network with additional 25,000 km and Rs 20,000 crore expenditure for easy movement of goods, and people using an innovative way of financing; development of multi-modal parks through PPP mode; bringing 2,000 km of network under Kavach using indigenous world-class technology along with 400 new Vande Bharat Trains; 100 PM GatiShakti Cargo Terminals; building metro systems; construction of 60 km of 8 ropeways to improve rural connectivity and promote tourism; construction of 80 lakh dwellings with investment of Rs 48,000 crores for BPL families; providing tap water to 3.8 crores families with allocation of Rs 60,000 crores; 68% of defence budget for domestic industry; 25% of defence R&D budget for industry, startups, academia and proposed generation of 60 lakh jobs, taking India on a digital plane for adding speed and scale to operations with ease of doing business and ease of qualitative living for all. Investment in infrastructure viz. Roads, Railways, Airways, Ports, Mass Transport, Waterways, Defence corridors, and Logistics Infrastructure would enhance the productivity of the economy, generate huge employment especially for the unskilled in the unorganised sector, yield higher revenue, increase tax collection, improving financial position of unskilled and skilled people living both in urban and rural areas by increasing consumption levels of people, and helping revive the economy at a faster pace. Investment in infrastructure (rural/urban or physical/virtual) in last 75 years has clearly proved to easy access to markets while combating "possible inflation, inducing ease of doing business and enriching living experience of common man. It is a well-known fact that large quantity of produce gets wasted due to non-accessibility to markets and lack desired infrastructure, even before reaching the users, thus resulting in the loss of national wealth and incomes to producers. The Government has given due importance to Agriculture in the last 6 years and induces inclusive development of Agriculture with empowering farmers digitally via mKisan. Drone Facility for produce assessment and pesticides spray; Rs 1,400 crore in Ken-Betwa river linking irrigation projects; financial support to SC/ST farmers for Agro-forestry; NABARD financing for Agri & Rural Startups; Vibrant Village Programme for Northern Border and Rs 2,67 lakh crore direct payments to 1.63 crore farmers at MSP. Other key developments for rural India is being done via skill development, universalisation of quality Education One Class-One Channel, Digital University, Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission Tele Mental Health programme; Har Ghar Nal se Jal and housing for all. The PM ’s Development Initiative for North East Region; Aspirational Blocks Programme; Vibrant Villages Programme; Anytime- Anywhere Post Office Banking; Digital Banking (75 Units in 75 Districts); Digital Rupee, and the Fintech innovations will not only upscale standard of living, but will also improve livelihood, generate employment, reduce income disparity through financial development and inclusion for all- Sabka Saalh Sabka Vikas, The Government has recognised the importance of financial management & fintech as important subject free from domestic regulations under GIFT City setup to empower youth and better management of the scarce resource, i.e., finance for development of the common man.
The Budget has rightly announced that digital currency would be issued by RBI in 2022-23. The setting up of Post Office Banking in 1.5 lakh Post Offices and 75 Digital Banking units (DBUs) in 75 districts by SCBs will empower rural consumers with financial liquidity and mobility via JAM Trinity. Encouraging Digital Payments ecosystem that is economical and friendly will ensure formalisation of the economy and industry. Digitalisation for India@100 will help generate wealth, bring ease of doing business, improve livelihood through enhanced employment, double farmer income through DBT at MSP and induce efficiency in currency markets. This process will help increase multi-fold the productive capacity of the economy and general employment at large scale, at all levels. India@100 will witness the true growth given the foundation of digitalisation of the economy fostered through Digital Ecosystem for Skilling and Livelihood with the launching of the Desh Stack e-portal to empower citizens to skill, reskill, or up-skill to promote sustainability and employability. The launching of One Class-One Channel under PM e-Vidya, 200 TV channels will supplement equitable right to education in national and regional languages for classes 1-12; setting up of 750 virtual labs in science and mathematics along with 75 skilling e-labs to simulate a learning environment; development of high quality e-content in all spoken languages for delivery via internet, mobile, TV, radio, etc., will equip the teachers with digital tools of teaching and facilitating better equitable learning outcomes throughout the country for all, irrespective of income or status. The setting up of Digital University, rolling out of National Digital Health Ecosystem of digital registries of health providers and facilities, launching of tele mental health counselling through a network of 23 tele mental health centres of excellence with NIMHANS will ensure a healthy India. The Productive Linked Investment Scheme in 14 Sectors with Rs 1.97 lakh crore spent in 2021-22 and additional allocation of Rs 19,500 crore for Solar and other schemes in Sunrise Opportunities; Energy Transition and Climate Action; Green Clearances; e-Passports; Urban Planning & Development support to States; Clean & Sustainable Mobility; Battery Swapping Policy; Land Records Management; IBC, accelerated corporate exit, modernising Government procurement; payment of 75 percent of government running bills mandatorily within 10 days; setting up of ways to improve AVGC sectors with a view to generate employment and build domestic capacity; rolling out of 5G Mobile services for proliferation in rural areas’ access to e-services and communication facilities will foster job creation and eco-friendly growth in all sections of society. As far back as in 2017-18, the research entitled “The Theory of Money, Wealth and Efficient Currency Markets: Modelling ‘M5’ as Money supply with Crypto Currency” in Finance India, proposed setting up of “M5 as Money Supply” with CBDC, along the lines of being inclusive of other currency products developed in the last 50 years in order to promote efficiency in the money markets, transactional efficiency, and generating wealth along with positive contributions to the GDP and people at large. The Government’s intervention or generation of the digital currency by the Central Banks is the need of the hour and critical for future economic and business conditions in the economy when businesses and labour market source are global and looking for currency efficient sources.
The infrastructure focus through raising allocations to more than 7.50 lakh crores (in reality Rs 10.50 lakh crores including grants-in-aid for investment in capital assets) along with large capital expenditure increase and investments through asset monetisation would result in growth. In these difficult times where even the developed countries are having negative real growth despite extensive fiscal spending, the Government’s allocation of 50 years’ interest free Rs 1 lakh crores to the States over normal borrowing will be catalysing overall investments and revitalising financially weak States to run developmental activities for generating remunerative employment and undertaking investment in productive capital assets. The capital expenditure to create productive assets from borrowings is a good decision by the Gol given growth trends, as it results in a multiplicative factor for given rise of productive capacity of the economy. Borrowing as we say in Finance must not be considered negative even if it results in higher fiscal deficit, as long as our growth is sustained, inflows of revenue are on an increase (Rs 1.43 lakh crore in GST receipts in January 2022 apart from other sources), strong foreign exchange reserve buffer, rupee value is strengthened, and monetary policy is stabilised by RBI. Almost all businesses around the world run profitably, based on financing projects with high leverage, by investing in productive assets. The revenue deficit of 2.6% is sustainable and may be considered to be good financial management of the Government in the year 2021-22. This indicates that there was strict control on revenue expenditures and also revenue realisation of both direct and indirect with improved efficiency in collection. Higher revenue deficit, except under exceptional circumstances like war or pandemic, reflects on inefficiency of the government both on revenue and expenditure side. Fiscal consolidation is always a matter of serious debate, a prescription of international agencies like IMF, ADB, and most economists. A fiscal deficit of 4% to 4.5% is recommended by fiscal policy makers, primarily with a view to maintain financial prudence and with a view to control wasteful expenditure of the Government. Accordingly, an attempt would be made to keep the fiscal deficit 4.5% by 2025-26. The fiscal deficit estimate for 2022-23 at 6.4% of GDP well-justified to meet the healthcare, employment, and livelihood needs of the common man. In the present situation of resurgence where the industry is on the path of revival and relief is to be provided to those who suffered from Covid-19, big developmental investment is to be made besides taking care of grants-in-aid and finances of States with additional Rs 1 lakh crore. 50 years’ interest-free credit speaks volumes to take India forward, involving the States in the journey of growth. Fiscal consolidation and tap on fiscal deficit is often recommended, ignoring the role of high leverage facilitation. A faster economic growth is provided to be used for investment in productive capital assets. A country gains tremendously when ROI (both social benefits and private benefits) from a project are higher than the cost of such funds invested in various projects (capital assets). Restricting fiscal deficit to a low level, say at about 4% is against the interest of nation as it will throttle growth and equitable development as has been taught at IJF for last 35 years. For a developing economy, own funds are never adequate for development and building up of productive assets. Fixing low deficit targets also indicates restricting the Government in its spending capabilities to induce growth, investment for India@100, and jobs for the youth.