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6 Positive Points From The ‘Bitter Pill’ That The Union Budget Was

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By Krishangi Singh:

After a decade of lethargy and inaction from the last government, people had all their hopes pinned on the budget from the newly formed NDA government. With PM Modi’s campaign that revolved around the ‘Acche din’ to come and his constant reference to take ‘bitter pills’ to improve the economic situation of the economy, people expected this budget to usher the era of growth and development that the country so direly needs.

Budget 2014-15

Thus, when Mr. Arun Jaitley rolled out the budget that barely addressed all economic issues currently under scrutiny, what with the allocation of funds in a largely unequal manner, it was crystal clear that a substantial faction of people will disapprove of this budget.

The budget 2014-15 seems to have clear objective about the desired economic status but lacks an action plan to achieve it. However, to say that the budget is a complete misallocation of thought and funds would be a mistake. This budget include many smaller policies that will lead on to a large scale impact if implemented correctly.

I want to throw light on six policies that seem small scaled but are actually well thought-out, keeping in mind the immediate needs of the public.

1. Excise duty hike in Tobacco Products

The 72% excise duty hike in all tobacco products might seem in wake of the recent spike in consumption and rather uninhibited access of tobacco to children. The move comes quite late as even after drafting numerous anti-tobacco and anti-smoking laws, the government has failed to implement them effectively. According to the report by the International Tobacco Control Project (ITCP), health of Indian citizens could be in serious trouble leading to a death toll of 1.5 million a year by 2020 if more users are not persuaded to quit tobacco.

2. Reduction of price difference between premium fuel and ordinary fuel

According to a Yale University study that assessed 178 nations, India’s air quality ranks among the lowest five countries, with New Delhi as the most polluted city in the world. Alternate fuels such as CNG have reach in very limited number of cities and so in wake of such circumstances, it is a wise move to make clean fuel available at affordable rate to promote its use for a healthier city environment.

3. Need based distribution of the Prime Minister National Relief Fund

The PMNRF fund is used for various schemes announced by the prime minister and also for relief during emergencies like floods and other such incidents. Until recently, the fund was allocated to various agencies through lottery system which was of course unfair as it meant that help will be provided but only on the basis of a lucky shot. As Mr Modi tweeted regarding distribution of the PMNRF “selecting beneficiaries in a comprehensive, scientific and humanitarian basis, giving priority to children and poor”. This budget has very smartly decided to abandon this unfair practice and allocate fund only on need priority basis for a more intelligent use of funds.

4. Self-attestation of IDs and other documents

To make official work easier for general public, the union government is now allowing citizens to self-attest their Ids and address proofs and advising state governments to do the same. This will make official work easier and faster as people are no longer required to wait in long ques at notaries.

5. E-visa

In a move to give a major boost to the tourism sector, this budget has started electronic visa system on arrival for 9 airports in the first phase. The Hospitality industry is the third-largest foreign exchange earner, accounting for 8.78% of India’s total employment, according to a report by the Planning Commission. The ease in issuing visa will certainly attract more tourists to further develop this sector. Apart from this, e-visa will also make it easier for visa authorities to keep a check on international visitors for suspicious activities and help strengthen the national security.

6. Faster process for seeking licenses

In a country like India where the red tape hassles make sustaining a business an immense challenge, any move that goes to resolve the labyrinth of paperwork is wholeheartedly welcome. This budget has hit the bull’s eye on the issue of reducing red-tapism to an extent. This budget increases industrial licenses’ initial validity up to 3 years and also allows a swifter process for industrial license renewal for 2 years. Apart from this, lifetime marine licenses will now be issued from local marine authorities rather than central authorities in New Delhi which are essential for industries given their salient necessity to ship raw material & products.

It wouldn’t be wrong to say that ever since the release of Budget 2014-15, the criticism it has received had overshadowed its sunny side. This budget might not be the ideal ‘bitter pill’ India so chronically needs but these small policies will certainly go a long way to cure the country’s economy.

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  1. Kiran

    Nice post but i think government should more focus on Black Money////

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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