The wide-ranging announcements made by the Finance Minister in this year’s budget emphasized enormously on the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This is evident in the sectors touched by the budget. The Softcopy examined the implication of the budget on eight SDGs.
SDG 03: Good Health and Well-being
Nirmala Sitharaman has proposed an allocation of Rs. 69,000 crore in the health sector, for the financial year 2020.
The government has also proposed to launch Mission Indradhanush for vaccination programs. This aims to deal with improvising immunisation process to make 90 per cent coverage of immunisation in all cities and districts. Medical colleges are proposed to be attached to district hospitals in the Public-Private Partnership model in 112 districts. Taxes from medical devices will be used to fund government hospitals in tier II and tier III towns.
Jan Aushadhi Kendras will be set up in all districts to provide medicines at affordable rates. Ayushman Bharat Mission, which was launched in the year 2018, is going to be expanded by the government of India. Rs.6000 will be allocated for PMJAY (Pradhan Mantri Jan Aarogya Yojana). An anti-Tuberculosis campaign is proposed to be launched for abolishing TB by 2025.
SDG 04: Quality Education
By Bhavya Kumar
Finance minister, Nirmala Sitharaman, has allocated Rs 99,300 crores for the education sector and Rs 3,000 crores for the skill-development sector. The current education budget is an improvement on last year’s allocation, which was Rs 94,800 crores. This year, the budget has seen a rise of Rs 4,500 crores from last year.
The finance minister has also announced the ‘Study in India’ program that targets to attract students from Asia and Africa for higher studies in India. Sitharaman added that the ‘Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao’ initiative had yielded positive results in the country as the schools witnessed an increase in the number of girls.
The FM also talked about quality education and skill development. It is worth noting that millions in India end up unemployed due to a lack of quality education. She said that the centre would soon introduce a revamped education policy and start full-fledged online degree programs to educate more students in the country. The allocated budget will also focus on improving the quality of high-ranking institutes in India so that they can earn a place in global rankings of prominent institutions.
SDG 06: Clean water and sanitation
By Neetu Saini
Presenting the Union Budget 2020, the Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said that water and sanitation are the key areas of focus for the government. Stressing on the significance of water conservation, FM Sitharaman approved Rs 3.6 lakh crore under the ‘Jal Jeevan Mission’ and has proposed piped water supply to all the households.
Talking about the third major aspect of the budget theme ‘Aspirational India,’ FM Sitharaman said, “Much is needed to be done for greywater management. We have approved Rs 3.6 lakh crore for Jal Jeevan Mission to provide safe drinking water to rural India.”
In the union budget 2020, Rs 11,500 crore has been allocated to boost the augmentation of local water harvesting in cities with more than one million population.
The government has upgraded the open defecation free mission(ODF) to ODF-plus in order to sustain ODF behaviour. A total of Rs 12,300 crore has been allocated to Swachh Bharat mission for 2020-21.
To ensure easy access to clean water, around 100 water-stressed districts would be identified and given due attention in this year.
To boost agricultural activities, the FM has also asserted that, soon, a scheme would be put in place to provide farmers with 20 lakh solar water pumps. Over the past ten years, the allocation to the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation has seen an annual average increase of 9 per cent.
SDG 07: Affordable and Clean Energy
By Nissim Jacob
Rs 20,000 has been allocated to the renewable energy sector in the budget for the financial year 2020-2021. In her speech, the finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman said large solar power plants will be set alongside rail tracks. She also said that there are plans to extend corporate tax concession to the power sector. However, power plants emitting higher than normal radiations will be shut down, and the land on which the power plants are set up will be then used for other purposes. The National Gas Grid has been expanded to 27,000 km.
The Budget also mentions that governments will replace the conventional meters will be replaced by prepaid smart meters. Consumers will also have the option to choose electricity suppliers.
SDG 08: Decent work and economic growth
By Surbhi Shah
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, in her union budget speech for 2020, included that to boost the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME), the turnover threshold for the audit has been raised to Rs 5 crore from Rs 1 crore.
In addition to the MSMEs, the urban local bodies will provide internship opportunities to young engineers for up to one year. Along with that, National Recruitment Agencies will be established and some centres will be set up in every district.
FM also announced the allocation of Rs 3,000 crore for skill development which will help in job opportunities.
Sitharaman mentions that the budget has been formulated with three things in mind: aspirational India to boost the standard of living; economic development for all (reforms across the economy, yielding more space for private sector); and building a caring and compassionate society.
SDG Goal 9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure
For Budget 2020, the Finance Minister has focused on MSMEs, with Union Minister Nitin Gadkari saying that his department plans to set up five parks to manufacture low-cost medical devices in the country.
The budget also shows a debt-funding of Rs 900 Crore for MSMEs, announced by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman. It aims to boost the manufacturing of mobile phones, electronic equipment and semiconductor packaging. The Finance Minister also said that this could be used to improve the manufacturing of medical devices.
SDG 12: Responsible Consumption and Production (of goods and resources)
Budget 2020 has allotted Rs. 1,24,535 crores to the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public. Nutrition-related programmes have been allotted Rs. 35,600 crores. The agriculture sector is the biggest consumer of water in India. PM KUSUM scheme is to cover 20 lakh farmers for standalone solar pumps and a further 15 lakh crores for grid-connected pumps. Around 45,000 acres of aquaculture is going to be supported. Agricultural credit of Rs. 15 lakh crores has been targeted for 2020-21. Liquid and greywater management along with waste management is also an area of focus. India has been ranked at the 103rd position among 119 countries on the Global Hunger Index. Welthungerhilfe and Concern Worldwide have reported that India is among the 45 countries that have “serious levels of hunger.”
SDG 13: Climate Action
Several thermal power plants that emit high amounts of carbon will be shut down. Around 4,400 crores have been allocated to promote clean air in cities with a population of 1 million. The Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change has been allotted Rs 2,955 crores by Nirmala Sitharaman which exceeds the previous budgets by roughly 10 per cent. The National Clean Air Programme, under the blanket of Pollution Control, was allotted Rs 460 crores. A total of Rs. 4,400 crores have been allotted for environmental preservation. Nirmala Sitharaman has announced that India will be hosting G20 Presidency in 2022 and those climate-related commitments that are a part of the Paris Climate Agreement, will commence next year on January 1.