Even as the Union Budget 2023-24 unfolded, the tone of the government’s seriousness in so far as securing its borders and territories are concerned, was read out loud and clear by the head of the Indian state President Droupadi Murmu on January 31.
The President while addressing a joint session of Parliament, said the present government is a decisive government and it would not tolerate any misadventure.
The Union Budget 2023 was presented today by India’s Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitaraman which laid out a list of new and continuing of old policies to achieve the vision of Atmanirbhar Bharat. The budget has been based on ten broad principles, such as housing for all with essential utilities such as drinking water supply, elimination of absolute poverty, health care facilities in villages, and steps to boost manufacturing.
President Droupadi Murmu in her speech said that the government “has always kept the country’s interest paramount and shown the will-power to completely transform the policies and strategies when required. The president that the government’s decisiveness has been recognised for a number of things from “the surgical strike to a firm crackdown on terrorism, from a befitting response to every misadventure from LoC to LAC, from abrogation of Article 370 to Triple Talaq”.
According to Murmu, the acknowledgement of the fight against terrorism which India has continued with a tough stand is reflected in that fact that “India’s voice against terrorism is being heard seriously on every global platform. In October last year, a special meeting of the UNSC Counter-Terrorism Committee was organised for the first time in India. In this too, India made its position clear against terrorism,” she said.
With focus on India’s borderlands, particularly with China and Pakistan, the President said that present NDA led government is confident that lasting peace is possible when a nation is strong politically and strategically. This is one of the reasons for India’s push India’s modernisation of its military was clearly evident from the way the Indian President addressed the country’s prioritising of the borders.
The Union Budget 2022-23 had declared the Vibrant Villages Programme which would encompass villages located on the northern border. The programme focuses on building infrastructure in these villages, including housing, tourist centers, road connectivity, renewable energy sources, access to Doordarshan and educational channels and livelihood support. It aims to improve living conditions in border villages, villages which are typically sparsely populated and have been left behind in terms of development.
Government of India is implementing the Border Area Development Programme (BADP) through the State Governments/UT Administrations in habitations located within 0-10 kms. from the first habitation at international border in 460 border blocks of 117 border districts in 16 States and 2 UTs viz. Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Punjab, Rajasthan, Sikkim, Tripura, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, West Bengal, Jammu & Kashmir (UT) and Ladakh (UT). Under BADP, the annual action plans of the States/UTs consisting of works related to village infrastructure like roads and bridges, health, education, agriculture, sports, drinking water & sanitation etc. are considered and approved as per BADP guidelines in vogue.
The President, on her speech, highlighted the commissioning of the Vibrant Village Programme to enhance the facilities available to the villages located on the border. She also emphasised the significant of having well-developed infrastructure in these areas for the national security.
“My government has started working on the Vibrant Village Programme to provide better facilities to the border villages. From the point of view of national security too, unprecedented infrastructure has been developed in the border areas in the past few years,” she said.
On the Agnipath scheme, she said it is very important for the forces to be enriched with youth power, to be proficient in warfare and to be equipped with the power of technology. “Keeping these principles in mind, Agniveer Yojana has been launched. This will give maximum opportunity to the youth of the country to serve the nation through the armed forces,” she said.
“Difficult terrain, along with unrest and terrorism, posed a major challenge to development of the North East and Jammu and Kashmir. My government has taken a number of successful steps for lasting peace and has confronted the geographical challenges,” she said. “As a result, the North East and our border areas are experiencing a new pace of development,” she added.
The Union Finance Minister on Wednesday also announced the PM Vishwakarma Kaushal Samman (PM VIKAS) program to support traditional artisans, known as Vishwakarma. The program offers financial support, advanced skill training, among other benefits to help marginalized communities which include Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, OBCs, women and those from the weaker sections. The Budget adopts the following seven priorities. They complement each other and act as the ‘Saptarishi’ guiding us through the Amrit Kaal.
Under the Inclusive Development, the Budget prioritises on the efforts of the Government’s philosophy of Sabka Saath Sabka Vikas which facilitates inclusive development covering in specific, farmers, women, youth, OBCs, Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, divyangjan and economically weaker sections, and overall priority for the underprivileged (vanchiton ko variyata) and has also been a sustained focus on Jammu & Kashmir, Ladakh and the North-East.
Under Priority 2 of the Budget: Reaching the last mile, the Prime Minister Vajpayee’s government had formed the Ministry of Tribal Affairs and the Department of Development of North-Eastern Region to provide a sharper focus to the objective of ‘reaching the last mile’. On this regard, the government has formed the ministries of AYUSH, Fisheries, Animal Husbandry and Dairying, Skill Development, Jal Shakti and Cooperation.
The Budget also emphasised on the Pradhan Mantri PVTG Development Mission aimed to improve socio-economic conditions of the particularly vulnerable tribal groups (PVTGs), Pradhan Mantri PVTG Development Mission which will be launched.
This will saturate PVTG families and habitations with basic 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.
Under the tourism sector of the Budget 2023, the minister announced at least 50 destinations to be selected through challenge mode with an integrated and innovative approach.
In addition to aspects such as physical connectivity, virtual connectivity, tourist guides, high standards for food streets and tourists’ security, all the relevant aspects would be made available on an App to enhance tourist experience. Sector specific skilling and entrepreneurship development will be dovetailed to achieve the objectives of the ‘Dekho Apna Desh’ initiative. This was launched as an appeal by the Prime Minister to the middle class to prefer domestic tourism over international tourism.
For integrated development of theme-based tourist circuits, the ‘Swadesh Darshan Scheme’ was also launched. Under the Vibrant Villages Programme, tourism infrastructure and amenities will also be facilitated in border villages.
Overall, the Budget 2023 places a strong emphasis on reaching the last mile and improving the conditions of vulnerable groups, particularly the tribal communities while also reflecting the government’s commitment to addressing key socio-economic issues in the country.