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Annual Series Of Thematic Deliberations On Union Interim Budget 2024-25 – IMPRI Impact And Policy Research Institute

Annual Series of Thematic Deliberations on Union Interim Budget 2024-25: Day 1 of Budget Discussions

Event Report
Riya Pawar

As a part of  IMPRI #PolicyWebTalk, Impact and Policy Research Institute recently organised an insightful panel discussion of 5 Days discussing the prospects of Union Interim Budget. These discussions were conducted from date 2nd Feb to 6th Feb, 2024. These thematic discussions were a part of IMPRI’s 4th Annual Series of Thematic Deliberation and Analysis of Interim Union Budget, 2024-25.  IMPRI’s broader vision to debates and deliberations for action-based solutions to a host of strategic issues. These discussions delved into the implications of the Interim Budget on multiple facets of Indian Economy and Society. 

Day 1| Gender, Social Inclusion and Union Interim Budget 

The IMPRI Center for the Study of Finance and Economics (CSFE) and the Gender Impact Studies Center (GISC) recently organised an insightful panel discussion on the theme “Gender, Social Inclusion and Interim Union Budget 2024-25” and the deliberation was chaired by Prof Vibhuti Patel, who initiated the discussion by emphasising on the Levels of problems faced by Gender and the social sector

Further, Dr Pramita Majumdar offered her insights regarding the synergy in for gender responsive budget. The discussion was taken ahead by Prof N. Manimekalai who critically reflected on schemes on nutrition, education and unemployment schemes. Advancing further, Dr. Neha Shah Focused on the Employment and Youth, she highlighted that need for reducing budgetary allocation to welfare activities.

Dr. Sanghamitra Dhar stressed upon the role of UN Women in initiating gender-responsive budgeting, further incorporating distinctions between gender-responsive and transformative budgets, emphasising collaboration and the integration of transgender issues into fiscal policies. Maya Awasthy diligently  advocated the need for a gender-neutral budget that sufficiently addresses the diverse needs of the transgender community and policy implementation to tackle the challenges faced by marginalised groups.

Shri Shailesh Mishra offered insights on the need for an inclusive and elder-friendly budget and highlighted the broader societal commitment called for age equality. Ms. Deepa Pawar takeaways comprised the necessity for a comprehensive approach to address the multifaceted challenges faced by Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs) and  accurate census data, and budgetary literacy to ensure the efficient utilisation of resources to foster inclusivity in the budgetary process.

The discussion highlighted the desired and actual realities of Gender, Social Inclusion and Interim Union Budget. The speaker delved into multiple areas socio-economic issues associated with Gender and Social inclusion, while also commenting on prospects emerging out of the budgetary allocation in these domains. 

To read a more elaborate session report: click here.

Day 1| General Election and Union Interim Budget

The IMPRI Center for the Study of Finance and Economics (CSFE) and the Gender Impact Studies Center (GISC),  IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute, New Delhi, hosted an interactive panel discussion on the topic “General Election and Interim Union Budget 2024-25” on 2nd  February 2024, as a part of IMPRI 4th Annual Series of Thematic Deliberations and Analysis of Union Budget 2024-25. The deliberation was chaired and initiated by Professor Nilanjan Banik who welcomed the panellists.

The discussion by initiated by Mr. T.K. Arun, who commented upon fiscal deficit figures and the government’s commitment to reducing it. Further Dr. Pooja Mishra offered her insights on liquidity challenges of the government’s financial manoeuvres.

As the discussion progressed, Professor Bhanumurthy highlighted the widening economic gap, underscoring the increased NREGS allocation in response to rural distress. Dr. Rajesh Shukla advocated sustainability perspective and emphasising the delicate balance between growth and environmental conservation. Saugata Bhattacharya delved into the critical juncture for the Indian economy and highlighted key macroeconomic trends. Professor Anurag Banerjee raised concerns about India’s persistently low productivity,  further exploring the relationship between wages, capital investment, and the education system. 

This comprehensive exploration of the Interim Budget, its economic implications, and the underlying structural challenges provided valuable insights for navigating India’s complex socio-economic landscape.

To read a more elaborate session report: click here.

Day 2| Employment, Livelihood and Union Interim Budget:

The session ‘Employment, Livelihood and Interim Union Budget’ was organised by  IMPRI Center for Work and Welfare (CWW). This discussion was chaired by  Professor Suchita Krishnaprasad who touched upon the prospects technological advancements and raised concerns about India’s poor Human Development rankings and stark income inequality.

Dr. Sandhya S. Iyer provided her perspective on practical steps for job creation and real wage growth-inclusivity in growth. Mr. Sandeep Chandra stressed impact on farmers and praised compensation funds to support these groups when disasters hit.

Prof. Swarna Sadashivam Vepa talked about  women’s increasing participation in the labour force.  Carrying the discussion further, Prof Randhir Singh Rathore highlighted shortage of institutes focused on skills training and good initiatives for skill development. The session concluded with  Prof Ranjit Singh Ghuman, who criticised the budget being politicised rather than pragmatic. 

To read a more elaborate session report: click here.

Day 2| Cities, Local Governance and Union Interim Budget

The session on “Cities, Local Governance and Union Interim Budget” was organised by  IMPRI Center for Study of Finance and Economics on 3rd February 2024. In the session chaired by Dr. Rumi Ajaz ji initiated the panel by  focusing on the interim budget and its implications for urban development.

Prof Chetan Vaidya highlighted the National Urban Digital Mission and lauded the switch to renewable energy.  Prof. Kala S. Sridhar talked abou  the significance of the interim budget in setting the tone for incremental and balanced urban development, appreciating its emphasis on promoting micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in smaller towns, and improvement in the  prospects of regional connectivity.

Prof. Mahalaya Chatterjee advocated the need to contemplate projects that transcend the rural-urban divide. Professor Manjula Bharathy’s offered insights on practical and ideological perspectives on local governance. Dr. Joy Elamon discussed the implications for the federal nature of the country on local governance,challenges faced by urban areas, the budget’s stance on migration-concerns about the fiscal health of local governments. Advancing the panel further, Dr. Jawed Alam Khan stressed on the challenges faced by local governments, particularly in rural areas, social security schemes, centralization and the diminishing role of local governments.

Prof. Tathagata Chatterji underscored the pivotal areas shaping India’s developmental transformation through  digitalization, infrastructure and connectivity, climate change and environmental concerns, and demographic shifts. Mr. Sameer Unhale diligently provided critical aspects of urban governance and financial management and highlighted the need for transformation instead of incremental budget. 

To read a more elaborate session report: click here.

Day 3| Education, S&T, R&D and Union Interim Budget

The session on “Education, S&T, R&D and Interim Union Budget 2024-25” was conducted at IMPRI Center for Work and Welfare (CWW). The chair for this discussion was Prof. Sachidanand Sinha. She initiated by commenting on the need to ensure sufficient allocation and utilisation of the educational budget. 

First speaker for the session, Dr Protiva Kundu opined that underspending trends in schools trends, according to Dr. Kundu, have defeated the purpose of introducing cess, i.e. to supplement the government’s financing for education and need for inclusivity of marginalised communities. Carrying the discussion forward, Dr Y. Suresh Reddy discussed his take on the various educational schemes of the government, with special emphasis on the Right to Education and National Education Policy and delineated the importance of the government’s role in revamping the education sector.

Adv Anubha Shrivastava Sahai initiated by questioning the implementation of various prominent educational schemes. According to him, budget to improve the infrastructure of existing educational institutions and pumping in money through public-private partnerships for such projects.

The discussion highlighted several crucial facets of education in conjunction with S&T and R&D like the policy prospects, budgetary spending concerns etc.  The discussion provided a diverse perspective on educational challenges and potential solutions. 

To read a more elaborate session report: click here.

Day 3| New India’s Economic Transformation and Union Interim Budget:

IMPRI Center for the Study of Finance and Economics (CSFE) conducted the Budget discussion on “New India’s Economic Transformation and the Interim Union Budget 2024-25”, chaired by Professor Mukul Asher. He started the discussion by talking about dependence on sustained economic success, continued fiscal prudence coupled with developing appropriate human capital and mindsets to power India’s rise as a leading global economy in the face of technological and demographic headwinds. 

Advancing further, Dr. Radhika Pandey highlighted the state of private investment and the anemic pace of consumption fiscal prudence measures. Second panellist, Professor Amarender Reddy addressed agricultural sector transformation jointly focusing on technological advances and stressed upon the need for balanced investment between the private and public sectors. Dr. Prabir De highlighted the intricacies in the budget’s directives to attain the status of developed nation by 2047, further touching upon inclusive development schemes, reliance on FDI, infrastructure investments, and global partnerships. Mr. Subhomoy Bhattachaterjee urged for a critical reflection on the budget and notice its political significance in laying out economic measures aligned with the government’s priorities.

The discussion touched upon multiple facets of India’s Economic Transformation with a focus on fiscal, monetary as well as development prospects. 

To read a more elaborate session report: click here.

Day 4| Defence, Foreign Policy and Union Interim Budget

IMPRI Center for ICT for Development organised an intriguing  panel discussion on “Defence, Foreign Policy and Interim Union Budget 2024-25” on 5 February 2024. Bhanavi, a researcher at IMPRI provided an overview of the budgetary allocations for defence sector. The discussion was chaired by Dr. Laxman Maharaj, who focused on strategic environment and security challenges for India with a stress on Chinese threats and the need to strengthen defence with geopolitical dynamics.

Professor Sanjukta Bhattacharya’s analysis connected the links between defence spending, foreign policy, and international trade. Major General Dr. PK Chakraborty shared his concerns about defence budget adequacy, inflation, and innovation. He highlighted the paramount role of private sector involvement and challenges in border infrastructure. Mr. Ravindra Sachdev discussed India’s potential to grow as a major defence exporter and emphasised  the need for increased defence budget and establishing soft power on the International Stage. Mr. Sachdev commented on the Ministry of External Affairs budget and provided valuable insights on increased development aid, diplomatic staffing, and cultural understanding initiatives to aid Indian businesses abroad.

To read a more elaborate session report: click here.

Day 4| The Environment and Union Interim Budget

IMPRI Center for Environment, Climate Change, and Sustainable Development (CECCSD) organised an insightful discussion on “Environment and Interim Union Budget 2024-25” held on 5th Feb, 2024. The discussion was chaired by Prof. Krishna Raj, who stressed the need to balance development and environmental concerns while urging reflection on India’s development goals in his keynote address. 

Prof. Sharachchandra Lele, the first speaker, criticised the effectiveness of environmental budget allocations and policies like the Rooftop Solar Scheme and the PM Suryoday Yojana, and favoured an inclusive approach to environmentally sustainable solutions. Dr. Madhu Verma advocated the importance of exploring nature-based solutions alongside technological ones and advocated for green accounting to monitor and tackle environmental impacts, and stressed the promotion of green employment for a sustainable trajectory.

Mr. Debadityo Sinha added the facets of challenges arising from federal structures and underspending on environmental projects like biodiversity conservation initiatives. Mr. Himanshu Shekhar underscored the importance of attaining net-zero emissions by 2070, to gain energy security through initiatives like E-Buses and offshore energy production, and the need for robust adaptability measures. Lastly, Mr. Soumya Dutta’s analysis of  the budget provided a perspective on coastal communities’ integration into blue economies and the significance of understanding the implications of green jobs and blue economy initiatives beyond mere budget allocations.

To read a more elaborate session report: click here.

Day 5| Rural Realities and Union Interim Budget

The session on “Rural Realities and Union Interim Budget” was convened by IMPRI Center for Habitat, Urban and Regional Studies (CHURS) on 6th Feb 2024. The chair for the session was Dr. Anamika Priyadarshini. She highlighted the inadequate allocation for rural development and agriculture in the budget, stressing on the stagnant funding for the PM Kisan scheme limitations.

The discussion was further taken over by Dr. Ramanjaneyulu GV, who discussed challenges faced by the handloom sector, including decreased allocation and increased taxes leading to employment decline and a shift to unskilled labor.

Dr. Parashram J. Patil talked about the need for increased agricultural investment to transcend policies like the PM Kisan scheme and address structural issues in the sector. Professor Santosh K. Singh appreciated rural immunisation and agriculture initiatives as a steps toward rural inclusivity. Professor Nalin Bharti noted the importance of transparent and accountable governance for rural welfare.

Further; Dr. Donthi Narasimha Reddy raised concerns about the declining trend in real budget allocation for the handloom sector over the years, further exacerbated by policies favouring man-made fibres over natural fibres like cotton, adversely affecting handloom market efficiency. Dr. Jawed Alam Khan provided a critical take on challenges in implementing Ayushman Bharat Health and Wellness Centers and emphasised the need for increased funding and involvement of Panchayati Raj institutions

To read a more elaborate session report: click here.

Day 5| Population, Health and Union Interim Budget

On the final day of thematic discussion on the Union Interim Budget series, IMPRI Center for Human Dignity and Development (CHDD) organised an insightful panel discussion on the theme “Population, Health, and Interim Union Budget 2024-25” on 6th Feb, 2024. 

Chaired by Dr. Devinder Singh, who initiated by expressing concerns about taking into account the demographic paradigm for public health, with a special emphasis on the limited consideration of demographic factors and inadequate allocation for public health in the interim budget.  

First panellist, Professor Sanghmitra Sheel Acharya discussed demographic trends and emergent regional disparities especially in the health sector with a need. Highlighting challenges in health sector budget allocations and the need for improved utilisation and allocation strategies.

Prof. Pradeep K. Panda analysed the impact of  fiscal consolidation on the health sector and criticised low allocation percentages and discrepancies between budget estimates and actual spending, while advocating for program support through initiatives like the PLI scheme. Carrying forth the discussion, Mr. Abhijit Mukhopadhyay commented on the post-pandemic budgetary trends, underscoring concerns about fiscal deficit targets, unspent allocations, and the need for sustained investment in healthcare infrastructure. Dr. Sachin Gupte discussed the prospects of the intent supporting budget allocations, praised consolidation of programs for efficiency, and raised concerns about healthcare professional shortages, and acknowledged the budget’s focus on non-health determinants like climate change’s impact on public health.

To read a more elaborate session report: click here.

Riya Pawar is a research intern at IMPRI.

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