Rama has finally been upstaged by Ravana
With Sri Lanka naming its first satellite after Ravana, the mythical king's transformation into a political symbol is complete
- Published 8.07.19, 4:06 PM
- Updated 8.07.19, 4:06 PM
- 3 mins read
Sir — Rama has finally been upstaged by Ravana. The mythical Indian king is known for having crossed the raging sea to enter Lanka. But not one to be outdone, Ravana has now gone to space. On June 19, Sri Lanka successfully put its first satellite into orbit, choosing to call the satellite Raavana 1. Attempts to remould Ravana as a national hero gained momentum in the 1980s, when Lanka perceived India to be meddling in its internal affairs. With Sri Lanka naming its first satellite after Ravana, the mythical king’s transformation into a political symbol is now complete. Rama, too, has become the nerve centre of Indian politics. The two monarchs are, once again, pitted in a battle royale.
Sir — The Union budget 2019 got off the beaten track of awarding too many tax sops, focusing instead on the needs of ordinary people. Raising the tax exemption threshold from the current Rs 2.5 lakh to Rs 5 lakh will allow those in the low-income range to heave a sigh of relief, especially with the poor condition of the rupee against the dollar. It is also encouraging that start-ups have been given various incentives; this is one way to ease the unemployment burden.
Corporate bodies can rejoice the cut in tax for companies with an annual turnover between Rs 250 and Rs 400 crore to 25 per cent from 30 per cent. This, however, will translate into a substantial tax inflow arrest for the treasury. Housing loan interest got a boost with an additional Rs 1.5 lakh on housing units worth up to Rs 45 lakh to stimulate the real estate sector. Overall, the budget has looked after the needs of all segments of the economy.
Sir — An important part of Nirmala Sitharaman’s budget speech that caught my attention was her mention of the principles of kayaka and dasoha. Kayaka, or bread labour, refers to any mode of earning a livelihood. About 10 million youths will take up skilled jobs under the Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana at a time when economies around the world are predicted to face a shortage of skilled labour. New-age skills such as artificial intelligence, big data, 3D printing, virtual reality and robotics will be taught to the youth. These will not only help them get jobs abroad but will also improve remuneration. The other ideology that the government will follow is the dasoha or the principle of giving back to society. This will ensure acts like the giving up of subsidies for beneficiaries who actually need these.
As a student, it was also good to learn about the decision to set up the National Research Foundation to promote research. Starting online open courses to upgrade the quality of education is also a commendable move. One hopes the government lives up to its commitments. It must be lauded for putting together an optimistic budget.
Sir — The government played it safe with the 2019 budget. While it will lead to a rise in the prices of petrol and diesel, it has allocated 9.4 per cent more than the previous year to higher education. Then, while nothing special has been announced for the lower and middle classes, the rich have been taxed higher than before. Time will tell how the budget shapes the economy.
Sir — While the Economic Survey focused on moving to a “virtuous cycle” of savings, investments, productivity growth, demand and exports, the Union budget adopted a more protectionist sentiment with the government extolling the virtues of wealth creation without proposing any big-bang economic reform. Extending the ease of doing business and ease of living to farmers through enhanced connectivity, zero-budget farming, encouraging rainwater harvesting, setting up new farmer producer organizations will go a long way in alleviating the condition of farmers.
The Jal Jeevan Mission is expected to improve the management of water resources, while the massive push to all forms of physical connectivity initiatives will improve logistics tremendously, reducing the cost of transportation and increasing the competitiveness of domestically produced goods. The Pradhan Mantri Shram Yogi Maandhan for the unorganized and informal sectors and the Pradhan Mantri Karam Yogi Maandhan for retail traders and small shopkeepers are welcome steps towards social empowerment.
In the absence of concrete employment generation programmes to harness India’s demographic dividend, the government referred to schemes introduced in previous years. This is not encouraging. The resolve to develop a robust digital infrastructure in the country by using artificial intelligence, too, is a reiteration of the commitment to making a transition to a “New India” by 2022 that is modern and technology-driven.
Overall, though, Nirmala Sitharaman should be credited with presenting a balanced vision to the nation and not indulging in ill-advised fiscal adventurism to ‘reward’ the electorate by pursuing a scorched earth policy.
Sir — The takeaways from the budget are the ‘giveaways’ of the ordinary middle class. The benefits matter little to people who could have done with better tax relief, which this year’s Union budget did not provide. This budget is disappointing.