Finance Minister Arun Jaitley’s budget proposal presented by him this morning at the Lok Sabha came as a serious disappointment to the women. Promises made to women entrepreneurs at Startup India by PM Narendra Modi were not kept. The nation’s budgetary estimates were laid on the following ‘9 Pillars’, but none of the pillars had provisions or considerable sanctions for women. With the oncoming digital revolution, this budget was nearly lipservice with little reform or boost for entrepreneurship.

Agriculture and Farmer Welfare

Arun Jaitley expressed his goal of doubling every farmer’s income in the next  5 years by ‘reorienting their interventions’ in the area. Irrigation, fertility and organic farming were the main points covered. 15000 crore has been set aside for supporting farmer loans. E-markets are also to be set up, to avoid farmers’ exploitation. However, women farmers’ interests got no special attention.

Women in Agrilcture by Aquaponics
Women in Agrilcture by Aquaponics

Rural Sector

A large emphasis is going to be laid on developing infrastructure, and Employment, with the nation digitized and electrified. The Panchayati institutes will receive additional funds, to support better performance. The nation is expected to attain 100% electrification by 1st May, 2018, the Minister guaranteed. Free health insurance and dialysis services were also put on agenda. Read more about rural Indian women here, where they stand.

The women were not forgotten here. SHGs are going to be fast-tracked Rs. 2000 crore for was set aside for 5000 crore BPL households for meeting the initial expenses of LPG installation in every rural household. The Minister spoke how getting these LPG connections, that are going to be made in the name of women, is a great move in the direction of securing rural women’s health, environment and raising standard of living. Although we cannot disagree, might we also point out that the Minister’s scheme seems to perpetuate patriarchal gender roles of women by reinstating the fact that it is women’s work. There could have been better ways, like maybe making provisions for private school tuitions for girls in villages, that could have also helped in changing rural perceptions of masculinities and femininities.

The Minister’s LPG scheme perpetuates patriarchal gender roles of women, by reinstating the fact that it is women’s work. There could have been better ways, like maybe making provisions for private tuitions for girls in villages, that could have also helped in changing rural perceptions of masculinities and femininities

Social Sector

Health sector saw some major shifts, will all major health insurance companies to go public and a plan to insure 1/3rd of the total population by the end of the financial year. 500 crore was set aside for SC, ST and women entrepreneurs.

Education

The finance minister spoke of the budget’s focus on education, skills and job creation, in order to create a ‘knowledge-based and productive society.’ Although a great deal of focus was laid on skill-specific education. When people are skilled and not educated, they are unable to articulate their problems. Hell, most of the times, they don’t even know that there is a problem; they just know their skill.

With this approach, it seems a tad bit difficult to imagine India as a ‘knowledge-based’ country.

Financial Sector Reforms

RBI Act 1934 and all major commercial banks will be revamped this financial year. The Minister showed string support for the banking sector, saying that these reforms are to bring “transparency and stability” in the system. He also proposed to amend the SEBI Act 1992.

Governance assistance in ease of doing business

This focus aims “to enable people to realise their full potential”, Arun Jaitley said.

Fiscal Discipline

The budget, as interpreted by finance minister Arun Jaitley, organizes its finances in a manner that prudently manages the funds. A great deal of emphasis was laid on delivery of benefits to the needy.

Women might have to struggle to make space in men's playing field
Women might have to struggle to make space in men’s playing field

Tax Reforms

Taxation policies were altered, with a  relief to small tax payers. On one hand, there was an increase in surcharge for income above 1 crore, while HRA exemption was raised from 24000 to 60000 Rupees per annum on the other.

Unfortunately, women were not particularly at the focus of the new policy framework. They were only included for delivering their gendered roles.