Like previous Budgets, this too will be tailored to PM Modi’s longer term, prosperity-oriented approach to governance, rather than a short term, populist approach. One of the standard features of office buildings and residential complexes of a certain, not so distant, vintage in India’s major cities is the absence of any designated space for parking cars. Urban planning hasn’t been one of the country’s great strengths. In fact, most cities have grown unplanned. However, the lack of parking spaces for cars (there may be some for two-wheelers) was quite deliberate. Urban planners simply did not believe that India would become prosperous enough for masses to own cars in any reasonable time frame (infrastructure is built for at least 30 to 50 years). And to be fair it wasn’t just urban planners, but most of the nation.
By 2051, India may have an additional 335 million urban population. Several new cities will be needed to settle them. ndia needs more than a pat on the back from fiscal-deficit-focused rating agencies and analysts, in order to regain economic vigour in a slowing world. A whole lot more. India needs a new New Deal, and, in the present national and global context, that would mean investing in a large project that creates demand for material and machines produced in India and for lots of labour, both skilled and unskilled, while adding to India’s future productive capacity. Building a new city is a good choice.
Eleven months ago, in a first for inland waterway cargo movement in India, the MV Lal Bahadur Shastri, a river cargo vessel, transported 200 metric tonnes of food grain over 2,350 km from Patna to Guwahati via Bangladesh. Now, the MV Ganga Vilas, a luxury liner, has begun to operate the world's longest river cruise, across 3,200 km, from Varanasi to Dibrugarh via Bangladesh.
Budget made for capital expenditure must increase if India is to keep pace with China's rising military might. India’s tumultuous and volatile strategic environment showed no signs of abating in intensity. New Delhi continues to face a two-front challenge from both of its primary foes, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and Pakistan, notwithstanding the latter’s recent conciliatory overtures, which are only a smokescreen to tide over its dire economic vulnerabilities.
‘Another important aspect of urban infrastructure is linked to urban governance, which is in a shambles in most parts of the country.’ A report by the World Bank, released in November last year, on financing India’s urban infrastructure needs, focuses on private investments ameliorating urban problems. The push to attract private capital, since the 1990s, followed by the urban reforms under the United Progressive Alliance I regime, the Smart City mission, and now this report, continues to plague India’s policy paradigm in the urban sector.
The government wants to create a mobile operating system (OS) to compete with the dominant Android, owned by Google, and Apple’s iOS operating systems that have pretty much divided up the global smartphone market (Chinese tech major Huawei uses its own Harmony operating system on its phones after US President Donald Trump ordered Google to deny Android to companies that violated the sanctions against Iran). The government has even come up with a name for it: IndOS.
The fiscal deficit created now translates into a higher debt burden that future generations have to service. Is that fair? It is more than fair. In the misty mornings of peak winter, a flock of sharp-beaked, joyless birds takes flight in the capital – Fiscal Deficit Hawks, who swoop down on North Block, where harried finance ministry officials race against time to prepare the Union government’s annual budget, to screech sharp orders to slash the fiscal deficit.