With announcements in the areas of health, education and women empowerment, Union Budget 2023-24 aimed at focusing on boosting India’s social capital.
Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, while presenting the Budget in the Parliament, on Wednesday, said that the government’s approach is “inclusive” and “reaching the last mile”. The Finance Minister announced establishment of 157 new nursing colleges in core locations, launch of a mission to eliminate sickle cell anemia, a common blood disorder, by 2047, entailing awareness creation and universal screening of 7 crore people in affected tribal areas in 0 - 40 years of age.
Aiming to empower women financially, Sitharaman also announced a one-time small saving scheme for women. The scheme will be called Mahila Samman Saving Certificate which will be available till March 2025.The scheme will have tenure of 2 years and will offer a fixed rate of interest at 7 per cent, the minister said.
In terms of education, Sitharaman said that teachers' training is to be re-envisioned through innovative pedagogy, continuous professional development and ICT implementation.
The other announcements made in the education sector are development of district institutes of education and training as vibrant institutes of excellence.
The FM said that about 38,000 teachers and support staff will be recruited in next 3 years, for 740 Eklavya Model Residential Schools serving 3.5 lakh tribal students.
The government also announced an Aspirational Blocks Programme, covering 500 blocks for saturation of essential government services across multiple domains such as health, nutrition, education, agriculture, water resources, financial inclusion, skill development, and basic infrastructure.
In another announcement under urban sanitation scheme, the FM said that all cities and towns will be enabled for 100 per cent mechanical desludging of septic tanks and sewers to transition from manhole to machine-hole mode. Enhanced focus will be provided for scientific management of dry and wet waste.
Sitharaman also announced Pradhan Mantri PVTG Development Mission to improve socio-economic conditions of the particularly vulnerable tribal groups (PVTGs).
“This will saturate PVTG families and habitations with basic 11 facilities such as safe housing, clean drinking water and sanitation, improved access to education, health and nutrition, road and telecom connectivity, and sustainable livelihood opportunities. An amount of ` 15,000 crore will be made available to implement the Mission in the next three years under the Development Action Plan for the Scheduled Tribes,” said Sitharaman.
Social sector experts have said that this Budget for social sector is forward-looking and may help in the social capital strengthening.
“The Union Budget for this year is focused on a holistic plan for accelerating economic expansion. After the pandemic, healthcare, education, and training all received substantial investment and priority. The healthcare sector will be further bolstered by measures presented in the Budget, with a particular emphasis on current issues,” Shanay Shah, President, Shalby Hospitals said.
Social sector experts noticed that the Budget 2023 focuses on seven priorities, which the Finance Minister called the “Saptrishis guiding us through Amrit Kaal”. The priorities are inclusive development, reaching the last mile, infrastructure and investment, unleashing the potential, green growth, youth power and financial sector.
Calling it as the blueprint for India@100, Dr Harivansh Chaturvedi, Director, Birla Institute of Management Technology, Greater Noida, said, “It is probably the first time when the union budget witnessed mention of teacher training, capacity-building programs and a culture of reading. The establishment of District Training Centres for educators will revolutionize both public and private school education across India. The district institutes of education and training will be developed into vibrant institutes of excellence for this purpose."
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