First, the government's commitment to increase the outlay and spread of financial inclusion has to be welcomed; the utilisation of the postal network for increased access to formal financial structure and launch of national-level social security scheme, Jan Suraksha, to provide insurance and pension schemes for the underprivileged is a landmark resolution.
However, the true ordeal lies in successful implementation of the projects; proper training along with methodical planning and efficient project management are imperative for activating these ventures. Also, while trying to implement these new measures, the government must also maintain unwavering focus on its fundamental Jan Dhan Yojna; out of the 12.5 crore accounts opened under the programme, 8.4 crore account have zero balance with their holders unable to avail the financial inclusion scheme. A renewed focus and additional resources are necessary to ensure the success of these financial inclusion measures.
Coming to the provision of financial aids for encouraging entrepreneurship development and improving educational infrastructure, the institution of Mudra Bank is indeed an interesting development, as it will provide financial aid to budding entrepreneurs and help in business creation to enhance the economic and employment prospects. Establishing a mechanism to facilitate start-ups is also a welcome boost to the Indian entrepreneurial sector; however, the initial provision of Rs 1,000 crore would have to significantly increase to establish India as world's leading service provider.
Entrepreneurship and eradication of illiteracy have been especially focused in this Budget, as can be seen by the government's resolution of upgrading 80,000 secondary schools and implementation of NSQF guidelines mandating skill-based courses from class XI. While these measures will help improve literacy rates and shape tomorrow's entrepreneurs by exposing them to basics of skill education and entrepreneurship at a formative age, certain steps must be taken to ensure their success; teaching and supportive staff must be provided superior training to improve educational facilities and the quality of teaching, whereas the outlay and rate of dissemination of NSQF must be improved to fully realise its potential.
In my opinion, collaborations with established training organisations would be essential for these initiatives bidding to reform the present educational scenario. Moreover, establishment of fully IT-based financial aid authority comes as a promising move aimed at providing higher educational opportunities to students by bestowing financial aid, which will ultimately be extremely beneficial for overall growth of the country.
With skill development ranking highly on the government's priority, the various skill development initiatives undertaken by various ministries have now been integrated under the newly formed Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship in order to bring greater rationalisation to the effort and streamlining the process for training providers. I think that the 'Make in India' campaign's continued focus on skill and entrepreneurship development will result in more blue-collared job opportunities for the youth. This will also increase the employment opportunities in the manufacturing sector which in turn will help in the assimilation of entire skilled workforce of the country, thus easing the strain on the service sector. Greater emphasis on the manufacturing sector will also help India establish itself as a major contributor in the global market.
The government's focus towards equipping the Indian youth with the proficiency and skills required for excelling in the global professional scenario through various skill and vocational training measures is also commendable. However, there needs to be an increase in the allocation of resources; while the initial provisions are adequate, fulfilling the skill development requirements of the entire country would require manifold increase in the allocation. Moreover, a more active involvement of industries in the skill development process should be encouraged, as it can benefit all parties involved; the trainee would garner expertise required to excel in the professional sphere, whereas also expanding professional talent pool for industries to draw upon.
The Budget's overall message seems to be vibrant and positive with a special emphasis on skill development, entrepreneurship, education and financial inclusion. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has certainly provided a Budget that promises much; the only challenge would be to see the promises fulfilled.
(The author is Chairman & Managing Director, AISECT, and Chancellor, AISECT University, Madhya Pradesh and Dr CV Raman University, Chhattisgarh.)