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Budget: What the common man wants

Last updated on: February 18, 2010 13:39 IST

Budget: What the common man wants

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Indrani Roy Mitra in Kolkata

The Union Budget is just a week away. And while economists, analysts and political pundits are busy making predictions about the biggest annual financial event in the country, common people are no less interested either.

Just as the people want Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee's Budget to introduce measures to counter price rise, the salaried individuals and those in business want a revision in tax norms.

How important is the Budget to the masses? How does it affect them? Will Mukherjee table  a Dream Budget? Will he be able to dish out a solution for the vexed issue of price rise?

Like last year, this year too, we went around asking some people from various strata of life about their understanding of the Budget, their concerns and expectations.

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Image: Indian flag.
Photographs: Reuters
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Sanchita Moitra, teacher

To me, the Budget stands for a system with the help of which one can meet one's expenses from an income so that at the end of the day, month or year, there is no insufficient funds.

I feel this year's Union Budget should be prepared in such a manner that all sections of people are satisfied.

The interim budget that our honourable Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee tabled in July 2009 was more or less good and it could somehow put some brakes on the economic slowdown.

As a tax-paying citizen of India, I would expect this Budget to offer some solutions to counter unemployment. It should bring forth effective job-generating measures.

To the common people, gross domestic product figures are not important. Neither are export-import statistics. What is of utmost importance is if there is any visible improvement in their standard of living. Will this year's Budget let me have more money in hand at the end of the day, that is what we want to know.

I urge the finance minister to take steps to help the self-employed and the youth get easy bank loans at minimum interest rates.

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Image: Sanchita Moitra.
Photographs: Dipak Chakraborty
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Amaresh Chakraborty, retired PSU employee

I look at the Union Budget as a gateway to progress with limited resources.

As a retired person, I feel it is the Union government's duty should be to see to it that it succeeds in minimising the financial plight of the common people.

Actually, it is the government's onus to evolve ways that would better the lives of the people who voted it to power. If the government does not heed to common people's aspirations, who will? After all, we are living in a democracy, isn't it?

The government must focus on the development issues and it must formulate plans so that the country progresses in the right direction without compromising on popular needs.

As a retired person, I would definitely expect the government to come up with steps that would make the lives of the senior citizens better. I not only look forward to more tax cuts, but also expect the finance minister to announce some profitable investment schemes for us.

Having said that, I also hope that the government should keep in mind the interests of the youth as well. Unemployment, as we all know, is the bane of our country and it is high time the government did something to create jobs for the youth.

One should never forget that the youth are the backbone of this country and that India's future lies in their hands.

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Image: Amaresh Chakraborty.
Photographs: Dipak Chakraborty
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Prasanta Roy Choudhury, economist

Budget means the estimated income-expenditure statement for a particular period under focus. It relates to working and producing anything and everything through some process involving dynamic changes of input to an output satisfying needs of the society.

Simply put, Budget is the supervising, monitoring and tailoring tool to keep track of the economy in question as per the broad guideline set up or policy framed by a country.

We hold lot of expectations from the Budget.

I urge the finance minister to take some effective steps in this year's Budget that would:

  • Counter price-rise
  • Generate employment opportunities
  • Create and implement new projects
  • Help expand industry
  • Checks price devaluation

We dream of an economic restoration whereby opportunities for employment will rise, more industries will come up, essential prices to operate within a certain level so that consumers can generate a surplus and prices are stable. Price devaluation too should be stopped.

Steps must be taken to control inflation as a whole and business process outsourcing units must be provided legal recognition.

Micro-banking should be given full support so that the government can earn more revenues.

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Image: Prasanta Roy Choudhury.
Photographs: Dipak Chakraborty
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Bappa Naskar, fishseller

Budget, to me, is ministerial nonsense. It is of very little importance to people like us who have to think constantly about how to make two ends meet.

Earning Rs 4,000 a month, I cannot indulge in the luxury of discussing Budget as the latter is for the rich people.

In our country, politicians are scoundrels -- corrupt to the core. Polls rule everything here. And as polls are not knocking on our doors now, I don't think the present United Progressive Alliance government will offer any sops for us, the poor.

It is not the government's responsibility to think how would I feed a family of six with my paltry income? The government and its power-hungry ministers have no time to think about us. They only know one thing -- they have to keep the rich in good humour. The poor can die.

For instance, has the government done anything to bring down the prices of essential commodities? No!

The statistics that the government produces, therefore, are good enough to fill the books of accounts. They do not have any significance in our lives.

I can exercise my freedom of speech and request the finance minister to form a policy whereby we can have uniform wholesale price for fish across India. But then, will he have the time to listen to me?

I don't think so.

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Image: Bappa Naskar.
Photographs: Dipak Chakraborty
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Chandana Goswami, government employee

I think this year's Budget should focus on curbing price rise.

The middle class and the lower middle class are up to their neck in expenses and it is time the government did something.

I am an ordinary citizen of India. I don't have much understanding of the government ways of functioning. Neither can I make head or tail of the complicated statistics that the government put forth every year in the name of the Budget.

However, as a citizen who votes and pays taxes I know for sure that it is the government's responsibility to see to it that people of this country do not starve.

If you ask me did the previous Budget do anything to prevent that? No!

I am aghast to hear that the government is again contemplating a rise in fuel prices. How can it even indulge in such a thought? Prices of essential commodities are already spiralling out of control and it is high time the government put brakes on it. A further rise in fuel prices will only take things out of control.

If a less-educated individual like me can understand this simple issue, why is it that the policymakers are bent on overlooking it? Or is it that they are deliberately ignoring the fact to serve their vested interests?

My sincere request to Pranab Mukherjee would be: please do something to bring down the prices. We are gasping under the burden of expenses. Please let us breathe!

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Image: Chandana Goswami.
Photographs: Dipak Chakraborty
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Tanmoy Bose, Radiologist (medical tedcnician)

To me, the Budget is an estimation of income and expenditure of the government. At least, that is how I look at it.

First, let me tell you, as a Bengali, I do expect a lot from Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee. I hope he does something for this state (West Bengal).

To start with, he must do something to counter price rise. We, the middle class, are gasping for air. It's a struggle for us to make the both ends meet.

Pranab-babu is a veteran. I am sure he can think of ways to solve this problem. After all, isn't it the government's duty to make the lives of the people better?

Recently I heard the government is considering raising the fuel prices further. Well, that would be like sending us to the gallows. At this stage, it will be almost a murderous step.

Surprisingly, statistics tell you that India is making progress but then why it fails to uplift the poor and the downtrodden? It's a depressing state of affairs.

Look at West Bengal. Be it health, education or infrastructure -- all these sectors are in a shambles. And have the governments done anything so far? No!

People here are frustrated to the core. Unless some drastic steps are taken immediately, a handful of them, I am sure, will take to the streets.

As the finance minister, Pranab-babu needs to do something improve the condition of his native place.

I appeal to him to look at us with a little more attention this time.

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Image: Tanmoy Bose.
Photographs: Dipak Chakraborty
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Sanjib Adhikary, trader

Pranab Mukherjee is a learned man. He is an economist of repute. Yet, the economic structure of India remains static -- it continues to make rich richer and poor poorer.

I fail to understand why is it that whenever Congress comes to power, common people are burdened by a price rise? Has it got something to do with the party's economic policy?

Statistics may tell a different story but as a businessman I see the income which seemed adequate for me and my family even a year ago is falling way short of our needs. I can't sleep at night at times thinking of our future.

It is increasingly getting difficult to lead a decent life with the money I earn. I shudder to think that one kilo sugar now costs almost Rs 50. It is an impossible situation.

We have such economic stalwarts at the helm, our policymakers are so educated. Can't they think of ways to counter inflation? Meetings follow meetings but what evolve out of it -- decisions that are only counter-productive.

Is this why we had voted the United Progressive Alliance to power? It's sad and frustrating.

I appeal to the finance minister to curb the price rise immediately as that alone is the only vexing problem at the moment.

As a businessman, I also urge him to revise the commercial tax rates. My customers often complain of those being too steep.

If he restructures the commercial tax rates, I am quite sure it would lead to more demand, better sales figures and increased production.

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Image: Sanjib Adhikary
Photographs: Dipak Chakraborty.
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Devi Baul, housewife

To be honest, I do not take keen interest in the Budget as such. But this year, I would.

For, as a housewife, I am finding it extremely difficult to run the house. There is always a shortfall of cash. Prices of essential commodities are going beyond our means. And ours being a single-income family, I simply don't know how to manage.

Such tall promises are made prior to the election. But once it gets over, we, the common people, are left at the mercy of the corrupt politicians.

The leaders of our country get everything for free. So they don't need to worry about the fact that how much does a kilogram of rice cost. But we are not that lucky, you see.

I don't believe in any political outfit. Whether the Left Front or the Trinamool is at the helm, it does not matter to me at all.  All the parties are equally corrupt.

However, things, at least price wise, were not as bad when the Bharatiya Janata Party was in power. This United Progressive Alliance government, it seems, is in deep slumber and it is just not waking up to the burning issue of all times.

As an ordinary non-tax paying citizen, I do hope and pray that this year's Budget does take some effective measures to counter our woes. If it doesn't it will be inhuman and cruel.

I would also request Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee to offer some tax sops as that would lessen the salaried class' burden to some extent. 

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Image: Devi Baul.
Photographs: Dipak Chakraborty
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Indrajit Moitra, musician

Government's policies have never exactly been music to my ears. Rather, they always sounded like discordant notes. But the trouble is you cannot ignore them. Neither you can turn a deaf ear to.

Budget is an annul ritual for the government that is placed with much fanfare. But what purpose does it serve? Nothing, actually, if you ask me. Some policies are made and some are discarded.

The poor continues to be poor while the rich turn richer. For, most of the measures that the Budget announces are only given a lip service. Take the case of below poverty line cards as an instance.

How many poor people in our state of West Bengal can actually avail of those cards? Only a handful. The public distribution system shops blackmarket the commodities. I would say each year's Budget gives a new fillip to rampant corruption which has almost become the second nature of India.

I am saddened by the present state of affairs. As a creative person, I wish I could do something. But then to do anything one needs to be in the system. And the latter is so pathetic. I feel so helpless at times.

Look at our state of West Bengal. Infrastructure, health, education sectors are in an utter mess. But what have the governments done so far? Nothing. One hopes to see a change in governance here soon. But will that improve our state? I really don't think so.

Unless the central government this year wears a hitherto unworn new suit and dishes out some really honest pro-people policies, we will continue to rot in the same hell which we have mistakenly accepted to be our homes.

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Image: Indrajit Moitra.
Photographs: Dipak Chakraborty
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