Children at play at Jumbo Kids, a nursery school in Mumbai. The budget calls for a 40 per cent hike in the allocation for Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, the government's flagship programme for inclusive elementary education, raising it to Rs 21,000 crore. But will this bridge the learning gap between privileged and underprivileged schoolgoers.
Grain stored in the open at the Food Corporation of India godown at Mayapuri, New Delhi. The budget proposes to create extra storage capacity for 40 lakh tonnes by March 2012 and extend benefits under viability gap funding to investments in modern storage capacities. Also, cold chains and post-harvest storage will get infrastructure sub-sector status.
Women employed under the MGNREGA programme at a tubewell project near Lalitpur in Uttar Pradesh. The budget has announced that wages under the MGNREGA will be indexed to the Consumer Price Index for Agricultural Labour. It also promises that the muchdebated National Food Security Bill will be passed within the next financial year. A whopping Rs 1,60,887 crore, or 36.4 per cent of the total Plan allocation, has been earmarked for the social sector.
Construction workers at an apartment building site in the National Capital Region, or NCR. Housing loans under Rs 15 lakh will now be eligible for a 1 percentage point interest subsidy for units that cost less than Rs 25 lakh. This could benefit home buyers in small Indian cities, even if not those in the NCR or Mumbai.
Revellers sway to music at Voodoo, a well-known night club in Chandigarh. Partying out is likely to get expensive as the budget proposes levying service tax on air-conditioned restaurants that have licences to serve liquor. Hotels whose daily tariff is above Rs 1,000 also come under the service tax net.
Somoti Devi, a 90-plus woman in Haryana's Hodal village. She is lucky - not many in India reach her age. Latest UNDP figures show life expectancy at birth in India at 64.4 years against China's 73.5 years. The budget seeks to step up Plan allocation for health by 20 per cent.