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Like every year, this year as well the Finance Minister will announce an annual report on expenditure and revenue plans for the next financial year in her budget speech on the 5th of July. With less than a day left for the Union Budget to be tabled in the parliament, people are pinning high hopes on the government. There are wide speculations on what the new finance minister will announce for the common man. Most of the discussions during the pre and post budget period revolve around the changes in tax regulations, development and other financial  aspects.Trends in the past years have shown that basic problems go unaddressed and unaccounted for. It’s high time to address these issues before necessity becomes luxury and India as a developed nation becomes a far fetched dream.We humans are so focused towards development that we have sidelined the basic problems. Given below are the points that I would want the Finance Minister to address in her budget speech tomorrow:

Water Crisis:

India is facing its worst water crisis in history. According to the recent data released by Niti Aayog, the think tank of government, about 200,000 Indians die every year due to inadequate access to safe water and 600 million face high to extreme water stress.The report warns that twenty-one cities, including Delhi, Bengaluru, Chennai, and Hyderabad will run out of groundwater by 2020, affecting 100 million people. If the present situation continues, there will be a 6 percent loss to the country’s GDP by 2050. Groundwater makes up 40 percent of the country’s water supply. The erratic monsoon and successive droughts have led to excessive depletion of groundwater, which resulted in the decline of groundwater by 61 percent between 2007 and 2017. Five years from now India may not even get a chance to solve its on-going water crisis. Witnessing that 80 percent of rural people are yet to get piped water supply, the government has created a “Ministry of Jal Shakti.” The government has also launched “Jal Kranti Abhiyan” from the 1st of July. Let’s see if the Finance Minister allocates a significant portion of the budget to save India from its worst water crisis and ensure proper funding of the bodies framed to fight water crisis. As per the reports if urgent policy actions are not taken, the combination of rapidly declining groundwater levels and limited policy action is likely to be a significant food security risk for the country.

Unemployment:

As per the data released by the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation (MOSPI), the current unemployment rate in India is 6.1%, it is the highest in last 45 Years. The current official data, shows unemployment rate at 7.8 percent among all employable urban youth while in case of rural youth it’s 5.3 per cent. The joblessness among male on pan India basis is 6.2 percent, and it’s 5.7 percent in case of females. It is a matter of shame that India has the world’s largest youth population and most of them are unemployed. India ranks poorly at 133 in Global Youth Development Index. The economy is not able to keep up with demands for employment and an increasing share of people are unable to find work. The Budget should focus on employment generation in the Union Budget 2019.

Education:

The 2018 budget aimed to step up investments in research and related infrastructure in premier educational institutions and proposed to launch a major initiative named ‘Revitalising Infrastructure and Systems in Education (RISE) by 2022’ with a total investment of Rs 1,00,000 crore in the next four years. Higher Education Funding Agency (HEFA), set up by the HRD Ministry, was supposed to provide this funds. Despite the government’s repeated claim on its stress on improving higher education, the allocation for HEFA has been reduced from Rs 2,750 crore last year to Rs 2,100 crore this year. The allocation of budget to education has always been in single digits. Given the poverty and the rate of unemployment in India, education needs to play a critical role in economic growth, the government should double the allocation to education expenditure.

Agriculture:

The agriculture sector generates the highest employment in India but contributes to only 15% of the GDP. The condition of the farmers is horrible in our country. They are buckling under the weight of their debts. We come across cases of farmer suicides almost everyday in the newspapers. The biggest expectation of the farmers from this year’s budget is farm loan waiver. Government needs to allocate more funds to the agriculture sector to boost their income.

With the Union Budget to be tabled tomorrow let’s see if Finance Minister, Mrs. Nirmala Sithraman will live to our expectations.

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