Sunday, 19 March 2023 16:10

Talking Point 4 - Mazdoor-Kisan Sangharsh Rally-2

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Modi Budget in Amrit Kaal:

Poison for the Common People! Amrit for the Corporates!

Arise in Anger!

Join the Mazdoor Kisan Sangharsh Rally on 5th April 2023!

The budget 2023-24 was the last full budget for the Modi led BJP government as Parliament elections are due in the first half of 2024. Being a pre election budget, people expected that at least in this budget some measures would be announced that would provide relief; that their burning issues like unemployment, price rise etc would be addressed. Such impression was fuelled by some sections in the media. But their expectations were belied. The budget 2023-24 proved to be yet another exercise by this Modi government to continue its policies of heaping burdens on the people and providing concessions to the big corporates, the Super Rich and its cronies, another move to forward its neoliberal agenda.

The deteriorating living conditions of workers, farmers, agricultural workers and all sections of toiling people is reflected in the sluggish growth in the consumption expenditure, which, at less than 5%, was less than the rate of growth of GDP between 2019 -20 and 2022-23. It means that people are cutting down their consumption because they have no purchasing power. Prices are shooting up. Thus there is a fall in real wages. Wages are not keeping pace. Incomes of small and medium farmers are also falling. Jobs are being lost. Permanent employment is becoming scarcer by the day. Common people are compelled to spend more on private health care and private education by incurring huge debt at high rates of interests, pushing them into indebtedness. Unable to bear all these burdens, not only the peasants but also agricultural workers and daily labourers are committing suicide. 1.12 lakh daily wage earners, 66,912 housewives, 53,661 self-employed and 43,420 salaried persons, 43,385 unemployed youths, 31,839 engaged in the farming sector such as cultivators and agricultural labourers committed suicide in three years. The suicide rate of daily wage labourers has increased steeply from 2019.

The Modi government turned a blind eye to all the problems of the common people. The budget does not address the issues of unemployment, malnutrition, falling living standards for large sections of the people. It has squeezed government expenditure on social sectors and provided tax reduction to the Super Rich. It has diverted public money to build and transfer infrastructural assets to its private corporate cronies.  

Food security: The number of hungry in our country increased from 19 crores to 35 crores since the pandemic began up to November 2022. One would expect that the budget would strengthen the public distribution system. But, this budget has the drastically cut down subsidy to FCI by 36%. The subsidy for decentralised procurement under National Food Security Act has been reduced by 17%. The allocation for mid-day meal (PM-POSHAN) has been cut down by 9.4%; that for micro-food processing enterprises by 29% and nutrient based subsidy has been cut down by 38% - all from revised estimate of FY 22. The gross subsidy on food has been slashed down from Rs 2,87,194 crore to Rs 1,97,350 crore, i.e. by 31%. At the same time, the effective tax rate on the Super Rich has been lowered from 42.7% to 39%.

Public health and education: The pandemic exposed the pathetic condition of public health especially in rural India. Instead of enhancing, this Modi government budget has reduced the allocation in Ayushman Bharat scheme by sharp 34% and in National Health Mission by 1% from last year’s estimated budget. Amidst the surge of massive drop-out from school and digital divide in education, the allocation in education empowerment scheme is drastically cut down by 33% from last year’s estimates; the allocation to National Education Mission is cut down by 2%. There is no increase for ICDS schemes and the anganwadi workers and helpers. There is massive 46% reduction in Central Sector Schemes/ Projects, 13% slash down in research & development, 18% education in environment protection.  Clearly, this Modi led BJP government wants to ransack the public health and education system, depriving the poor of the basic right to universal and free health and education.

Employment: While the economic survey lauds the MGNREGA scheme as not only employment generator, but as a rapid asset creator for national economy, the allocation to MGNREGA has been cut down by 33% from last year’s revised estimates. The rural employment budget has been slashed down from Rs 1,53,525 crore to 1,01,475 crore, by 34%. Thus, the budget has blatantly neglected employment generation, a vital issue for the common people. Allotment to National Livelihood Mission has been curtailed. The allocation for highly boasted Atmanirbhar Bharat Rojgar Yojana has been reduced by 65%. This budget has reduced the investment in PSU by 11%. 

There is nothing about employment creation in the informal sector, about GST relief and release of large outstanding payments for MSMEs. There is nothing about raw material price control and no plan for demand creation.

Agriculture: The economic survey has repeatedly asserted that agriculture and allied activities have kept the trajectory of Indian economy to some extent during the global crisis. But, the gross allocation in agriculture has been reduced by 7%, the allocation in PM-KISAN has been cut down by 11.76%, to Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana by 31%, to Krishi Sinchai Yojana by 17% and to Krishionnati Yojana by 2% from last year’s budgeted estimate. Fertilizer subsidy has been slashed down by 22%, urea subsidy by 15% from last year’s revised estimates. The budgeted allocation for crop insurance scheme is cut by 12% from last year’s estimate. The Green Revolution, PMM-MIS (crop price support scheme) and PM-AASHA (for ensuring MSP) have been wiped out.

Housing and social welfare: The government claims of a huge increase in allocation to the much tomtomed housing scheme. But the reality is that the allocation to the scheme, which was Rs 90020 crore in FY 21, has been drastically cut down to Rs 77130 in FY 22. This has now been marginally increased to Rs 79 590 crore but is still much lower.

Funds for Umbrella Programme for Development of Minorities have been cut by 66%. The fund for pension has been slashed down by 4.2%. The allocation for maternity benefit scheme Matru Vandana Yojana has been cut down by Rs 40.15 crore. The gender budget is only 4.9% of the total expenditure; SC budget is mere 3.5%, ST welfare allocation is only 2.7%. Most devastatingly the petroleum subsidy has been reduced by massive 75%, the LPG subsidy by 61%! The attack is atrocious, brutal and planned to turn Indian people into slave of Super Rich.

Thus, the first budget in the so called Amrit Kaal, which is also the last full budget of this government, has turned out to venomous for the people. Probably the BJP-RSS want to rely more on their communal divisive agenda.

The workers, peasants, agricultural workers, and all other sections of the toiling and progressive people of our country cannot allow this attitude of imposing burdens on the toiling people and allowing huge concessions to the big corporates. They cannot allow the continuation of the disastrous neoliberal policies that have been ruining the livelihoods of the toiling people, the country’s self reliance and sovereignty. They have to be vigilant, protect and strengthen their unity to fight and defeat these neoliberal policies and the Modi government that is committed to neoliberalism.

The 5th April 2023 ‘Mazdoor Kisan Sangharsh Rally’ called by CITU, AIKS and AIAWU, three major organisations representing the workers, peasants and agricultural workers, who produce the wealth of our country is to fight and defeat these disastrous policies reflected in the budget and for alternative pro worker, pro peasant and pro people policies. It is to save our country and save our people from the ruinous corporate communal nexus

Come on, let us join en masse!

Read 432 times Last modified on Tuesday, 21 March 2023 05:03