Kavita at her Jamshedpur home on Thursday. Picture by Animesh Sengupta
For Divesh Makhani, a 42-year-old hardware businessman from Jamshedpur, the Union Budget presented by finance minister Arun Jaitley on Thursday is a beacon of hope for the middle class replete with hints of achhe din promised by the Narendra Modi government.
The Sonari resident and father of two, who loves to holiday with his family, sees the Budget as a slow and steady beginning for India’s economic growth, which is never achievable without taking into consideration the aam admi’s bare minimum aspirations.
“It is a forward-looking budget that has spared the middle class arbitrary price hike by keeping duties on items of frequent and necessary use unchanged. I can now buy my elder son a computer and my wife a tablet, which have both got cheaper,” said Divesh who runs his hardware business in Bistupur.
While his elder son Jatan is 12 years old and studies in Class VI at Carmel Junior College, younger Shaurya is five and is an upper kindergarten student of the same cradle.
Jaitley Budget has exempted all inputs and components used in manufacture of personal computers from 4 per cent special additional duty (SAD), making them cheaper. He has also imposed an additional education cess on imported electronic products to provide parity between domestically produced goods and imported goods.
“By the time the Union Budget is presented for 2015-16, good times (read Modi’s achhe din) will be knocking on our door,” said the sanguine businessman.
Reduction of excise duty from 12 per cent to 6 per cent on footwear ranging between Rs 500 to Rs 1,000 and increase in investment limit under Section 80C of the Income Tax Act from Rs 1 lakh to Rs 1.5 lakh has also brought cheers for Divesh.
“My sons normally need three pairs of shoes every year. Who wouldn’t be glad if they came cheaper? I will also have to consult my tax adviser soon on how to save more money under 80C. I am happy for my friends too. They can now avail of a higher personal tax exemption limit of Rs 2.5 lakh,” said the hardware trader who earns around Rs 5 lakh annually.
For his wife and homemaker Kavita (40), the finance minister laying stress on women safety and not laying down any hike in LPG prices were the decisions most welcome.
“I was a bit worried about cooking gas prices, especially after fuel and railway fare hike last month. Thank god, my fears have not come true. Also, the outlay of Rs 50 crore for a pilot scheme on road safety and Rs 150 crore for safety of women in larger cities make me heave a sigh of relief,” said Kavita who rides her scooter to the market and occasionally uses public transport like auto-rickshaws.
The Makhanis, who have a lust for travel, have also given thumbs up to the proposal to develop airport in tier II cities like Jamshedpur. “We recently visited Rajkot, but had to go via Calcutta. Once the city has better air connectivity, travelling will be time-saving too,” said Kavita.