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Budget 2024 To Focus On 5 Key Sections Including Women, Tribals, Youth: FM Sitharaman

In light of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s promise of inclusive growth, Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s pre-election budget is expected to concentrate on welfare programmes for five important segments of society: women, the impoverished, youth, farmers, and tribal people. The National Democratic Alliance (NDA), led by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), is vying for a third term in office.

Accordingly, new schemes may be introduced while budgets for current programmes benefiting various segments of society are expected to be increased, according to two people with access to government deliberations.

“Schemes meant for these sections of the society will get emphasis in the budget. For example, education and skill development will get special attention, addressing the aspirations of the youth,” one of the two people said.

In 2023–24, the Centre allotted more than ₹1.12 lakh crore to the two departments in charge of higher education and literacy as well as school education. In view of Modi’s vision of women-led development, Sitharaman’s budget speech on February 1st will likewise centre on the welfare of women. Women voters were a major focus of the recently concluded Madhya Pradesh assembly elections, and the state election was won by the BJP, while the Congress also had programmes specifically for women.

The budget for the ministry of tribal development—which oversees programmes for the well-being of tribal people—was significantly increased in 2023–2024. That tendency is expected to continue in 2024–2025, the source, who wished to remain anonymous, stated. The ministry’s budget for 2023–24 experienced a nearly 71% increase, with the majority of that increase going towards the Eklavya Model Residential Schools (EMRS) initiative, which offers free residential education to students from scheduled tribes in grades six through eleven. According to the aforementioned source, Modi launched the Vikasit Bharat Sankalp Yatra at Khunti, a village in Jharkhand with a sizable tribal population, on November 15, demonstrating the government’s focus on tribals and its determination to guarantee that welfare programmes reach all eligible individuals who have not yet been covered.

A projected 33% rise in the social transfer under the PM-Kisan Samman Nidhi is anticipated to assist farmers. The programme transfers ₹6,000 annually to small and marginal farmers. According to a second source who also spoke on the condition of anonymity, the Centre allotted ₹60,000 crore for this initiative in 2023–2024. The amount will increase correspondingly in 2024–2025. For the upcoming fiscal year, specific budgetary allotments to several ministries are still being determined. As the fiscal year comes to a finish, the government learns early about the trends in revenue receipts but not the spending patterns for the current year.

A spokesman for the finance ministry was contacted by email on Wednesday, but she did not respond.

Experts pointed out that the strategy of addressing the needs of the vulnerable sections of the society through the budget while separately undertaking reforms and making it easier for doing business are likely to help the ruling coalition connect with not only the masses but also with the well-off while pursuing development goals. “The government is already focused on the aspect of inclusiveness in politics. The Modi government has transited to class politics. Indian politics, which has traditionally been seen as caste-centric has now become class-centric, which is a fundamental shift in Indian politics,” said A.K. Verma, the director of the Centre for Study of Society and Politics.

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