Generations have passed waiting for governments to root out the scourge of corruption that has created an octopus like grip on our system of governance
A government budget is a document prepared by the government setting out its projected tax revenue through various sources and proposed expenditures/expenditures for the upcoming financial year. In most parliamentary systems, the budget is presented to the legislature and requires the approval of the legislature before any expenditure is made. Through the budget, the government implements its economic policy and presents the priorities of its program to the people.
In a democracy, the people are sovereign and therefore any elected government must account for every paisa it collects or spends and presents these accounts to the people through the institution of parliament. Normally, the amount spent on various endeavors also presents a broad picture of the government’s thinking and clarifies how the nation is taken by the government. This is why the budget document not only catches the attention of the people, but also generates enormous excitement before its presentation. Every section of the population, rich, poor, middle class, taxpayers, consumers, etc. examines it from its own point of view and declares it pro-rich or pro-poor or pro-middle class or anti-people, as the case may be.
A democratically elected government must look out for the interests of each section of the population, balance competing demands and assist marginalized sections of the population in such a way as to put them on an equal footing, as far as possible, with the rest of the population. population . A government is judged to be doing a good job if it can prove that it is not biased towards a part of the population and that it provides fair conditions for all to succeed and prosper. In doing so, it takes special care of the needs of the most vulnerable segments of the population so that they are not left behind in their quest for basic living conditions. Therefore, it comes down to providing every citizen with a decent level of education, healthcare and housing facilities including all civic amenities and employment with good governance where citizens do not need to pay bribes or using Sifarish to do their legal and legitimate work.
While dealing with competing demands, governments must take this reality into account. In case of corporate governance, management listens to the voice of the majority of shareholders, in the same way that governments must listen to the majority of shareholders, i.e. the majority of voters who happen to be less privileged. . Fortunately, our constitution makers did not distinguish between the rich and the poor while accepting the principle of universal suffrage. Therefore, governments, if they want to continue to have the support of the majority of stakeholders, must act in the best interest of the poor first, then of the others. But governments past and present seem to have forgotten this basic truth and are generally busy helping those with money and influence. This is why people in power get nervous before every election because they know very well that instead of serving the interest of the majority of their supporters, they have acted to further the interest of the haves. The consequences of such slippages are disastrous for the nation, as politics then becomes dependent on gaining the support of voters not by their actions but by extraneous factors like money bags, caste, religion and power. muscular. This inability to govern in a truly democratic way has led to all sorts of distortions in our body politic. This needs to be addressed if we take matters of governance seriously.
A glance at the budgets presented over the past decades will amply show that those in power have never bothered to solve the problems that plague our nation. Generations have passed waiting for governments to root out the scourge of corruption that has created an octopus like grip on our system of governance. No government worth its salt has ever tried to present the people with a clear, time-bound roadmap to overhaul our country’s rotten education and healthcare sector. Why has no government ever thought of doing something serious, in a limited time, to solve the huge problem of unemployment faced by millions of young people in our country? The problem of the gigantic urban-rural divide has gone unnoticed and unwatched since independence. For decades, governments have tried only fixes with a sub-optimal level of investment to address it, with little or no of success.
After so many years of autonomy, we should have understood the problems and found solutions in a limited time. This was not the case, and still year after year we produce a large volume of undirected articles in the name of budgets. Who these hundreds of pages of various duty reductions, concessions, exemptions, increases and decreases in tax provisions are going to help is clear to those who drafted it or to those who are going to benefit from these voluminous provisions. The common man remains where he was decades ago, struggling to cope with the daily hardships he has endured throughout his living memory. When will our country’s majority shareholders, the silent majority, see the light at the end of the tunnel?
The writer is a former Indian government secretary