Budget session 2018 began with President Ram Nath Kovind’s address to a joint sitting of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha. In an hour long speech, President Kovind listed the reforms undertaken by the government in the last four years for women, farmers, weaker sections of society and in the field of finance.
President Kovind started his speech by quoting the words of Dr. Bhim Rao Ambedkar that “political democracy cannot survive without social and economic democracy” and emphasised that his government is working towards strengthening social justice & economic democracy and to usher ease of living for the common man.
Under the ‘Jan Dhan Yojana’, so far, about 31 crore bank accounts have been opened for the poor. Women have been especially benefitted from the scheme as they accrued more than 40% of bank saving accounts. Apart from this, under the ‘Pradhan Mantri Mudra Yojana’, about 10 crore loans have been sanctioned so far and more than Rs. 4 lakh crore worth of loans have been disbursed. Around 3 crores were first time beneficiaries that received assistance under this scheme for self-employment. Apart for this self-employment thing, the government has also committed to double the income of farmers by 2022. Moreover, to enhance the income of farmers, an ambitious scheme has also been introduced in the Dairy sector under which a ‘Dairy Processing Infrastructure Development Fund’ with a corpus of Rs. 11 thousand crores have been set up. If we will talk about ‘Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana’, under this scheme farmers are being provided affordable and simple crop insurance services. During 2017, for the production of Rabi & Kharif crops, 5 crore 71 lakh farmers were provided protective coverage under this scheme.
Apart from this insurance scheme, other Insurance schemes have also been introduced. One of them provide funds to poor at a premium of 1 rupee per month and 90 paise per day. More than 18 crore poor have been covered under the ‘Pradhan Mantri Suraksha Bima Yojana’ and ‘Pradhan Mantri Jeevan Jyoti Bima Yojana’ and about Rs. 2 thousand croreshas been paid out as claims. With the growing concern regarding physical connectivity, the work has started under ‘Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana’ in order to connect all the villages. As compared to 2014 when only 56 per cent of the villages had road connectivity, now more than 82 per cent of villages mostly in far flung and inaccessible areas have been connected by roads.Over the last three and a half years, more than 93 lakh houses have been constructed by the Government in rural and urban areas under the ‘Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana’. But again, providing housing facility is not the only solution to prosper growth. Better employment opportunities need to be created. For the same, enterprises or companies creating new employment opportunities are been provided financial assistance under the ‘Pradhan Mantri Rojgar Protsahan Yojana’. On an average, over 20 lakh people have been benefited under this scheme. Apart from this, government hasalso managed to increase the minimum wage of workers by more than 40 per cent.
With changing era towards digitalisation, at present, Digital Payments are being carried out in more than 400 schemes of the Government. As a result, it has become feasible for the government to provide benefits to the genuine beneficiaries. Till now, more than Rs. 57 thousand crores have been prevented from going into the wrong hands.
Apart from these policies, government has approved ‘Bharatmala’ programme for the development of highways with a provision of Rs. 5 lakh 35 thousand crore. Under this project, around 53 thousand kms of National Highways have been identified. Moreover, if we will talk about air connectivity then to provide air connectivity to smaller cities, “Ude Deshka Aam Nagrik” or ‘UDAN’ scheme has been launched. Under this scheme, work has been initiated to connect 56 airports and 31 helipads in a short span of 15 months.
Government has also ensured power availability to States at cheap rates by completing work on the ‘One Nation, One Grid’ notion. Schemes worth Rs. 1.5 lakh crore have been implemented to strengthen the power distribution network in all villages and towns of the country. In order to strengthen electricity transmission and distribution network in the North-Eastern States, government has sanctioned schemes worth Rs. 10 thousand crore in the lastthree years.
The Government disbursed arrears of more than Rs. 10 thousand crore to over 20 lakh retired armed forces personnel under the ‘One Rank One Pension’ scheme.In 2017, Foreign Exchange Reserves have risen to a level more than US dollar 410 billion. Apart from this, in order to make a more competitive capital base, the government will be re-capitalising the public sector banks by infusing more than Rs. 2 lakh crore of capital in them.