This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Mayank Jain. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

The Statue Of Liabilities: A Budget Of Blunders And Misplaced Priorities

More from Mayank Jain

By Mayank Jain:

The budget of hope, as it was fondly called by the media and especially the party itself, has turned out to be a lukewarm pot of alms and appropriations which look good from far away but a close scrutiny confirms the fact that ‘devil is in the details’.

Picture Credit: Pradeep Gaur/Mint
Picture Credit: Pradeep Gaur/Mint

Arun Jaitley was in no mood for literary ostentation as he went on demarcating the expenditures and revenue sources with minimal explanation or larger picture references, much like the bullet trains promised by the Railway Minister just two days back. The budget is a great tool to correct what’s wrong and build what’s missing but India needs much more than that. When we were in the need of social change, equitable distribution of resources, public sector spending and fiscal discipline that goes beyond mere words, we got this budget which hardly fulfills any of the above purposes. All Jaitley looks keen on doing with this budget is to focus on taking up ‘challenges’ that weren’t posed to him in the first place and brag about great targets that the government is setting for itself which are ultimately doomed since there are no plans or checks in place. Forget about plans, there are no substantial allocations of funds either in some crucial areas.

Statue of Wastage

What do you do with 2,500 crores to spare in a country of malnourished and impoverished people? You build an iron statue of a national figure which will compete with the Eiffel tower in height and hence provide food for the Indian ego for a long time to come. Because, who needs wheat and rice to fill their stomachs? We are getting a really tall statue in Gujarat. The budget appropriations were going considerably fine until Jaitley appropriated a whole lot of money to the ambitious statue in Gujarat which Narendra Modi promised in his election speeches. Precisely, 200 crores have been appropriated from the current budget but women’s safety had to take a backseat in his list of priorities as only 150 crores got allocated.

Muddled up priorities

The whole cost of this debacle will be more than 2,500 crores and the statue will stand tall as a testimony to our collective stupidity and prodigal wastefulness to turn our prime minister’s reverence into a national liability. Fun Fact: We could do 5 similar Mars missions in the same amount and still be left with money to spare and spend. On women’s safety, this time at least. It is horrific to see the budget full of similar appropriations which are totally reckless in some places including Ganga Restoration Project which will take a bigger chunk of our revenues in this year. 2,037 crores have been allocated in this regard which is an almost 566 per cent increase from the last appropriation made for the Accelerated Irrigation Benefit and Flood Management Programme.

The budget is government’s show of commitment to things which could definitely come much lower in our list of priorities. The 10,000 crores fund for the startups is a welcome move but how do you justify only 100 crores for a sports university and the same amount for training of athletes? Why are we looking at things from a short term point of view? Patching it up with the 100 crores chips is something that our Finance Minister must answer. 100 crores were given to Beti Bachao Beti Padhao Abhiyaan which is clearly not a fair appropriation to something as pervasive as the dwindling sex ratio in the country where a huge population is still marred by dogma and prefers to kill girl child rather than raise them up. A similar fate has been dished out to other important things like e-classrooms or widespread healthcare programs which weren’t announced and only renamed or revived on the UPA’s footsteps and quite unlike the promise of a golden future that the party made in every part of the country.

Statue Of Limitations

The budget is an average one, to be lenient in judgment, and might work well for the economy due to better taxation policy but the fact that government conveniently refrained from giving any timelines for things as important as the Goods and Services Tax proves that there is much hiding in the lines that we haven’t read so far. With no mention whatsoever of much needed reforms, the government played safe and avoided any controversy and removed the possibility of many critical op eds. Progress, however, needs bold steps and more than just Public Private Partnerships which appear to be a solution to everything now.

Till the time we see the next budget, the picture will be clearer and the facts will have settled in the public domain about the utility of the Statue of Unity. Meanwhile, we can only hope that they put solar cells on the statue and at least derive some much needed power while we are busy fulfilling the ambitions of that one man who sold us the ‘development dream’ with money that we save off from bribes.

PS: There was no mention of words like corruption and black money, forget appropriation of money to fix the problems.

Is development too, a state of mind?

To know more about this story and what I think, follow me on Twitter at @mayank1029

 

You must be to comment.
  1. Anubhav Singh

    kya baat hai, dur dur tak koi modi supporter nahi nazar ara?

  2. Contrasting Articles

    This is so much in contrast to your yesterday’s article on the budget.

    Though I have to agree about the statue;To put it in simple words;Its a useless waste of money,metal & labour.

    1. Mayank Jain

      Hello,
      Yes. It is my job to bring out both the sides to a story but this is definitely the more appalling one. Thank you for the comment.

  3. Pooja Arora

    So yet again highlighting the negativities without going into the economics of it, without checking the scope which government had. Please highlight what so much good was given in the budget.
    1) Pretty good investments in manufacturing and infrastructure thus giving jobs hence growth based budget
    2) While UPA was totally capital account based budget, this budget is revenue based because at the end government can’t take burden of expenses
    3) While subsidies could be reduced but yet untouched because of prediction of poor monsoons. Still quite better is proposed.
    4) Again 10 years tax exemption to projects in power sector for next 3 years to improve growth
    5) To initiate growth further, exemptions on PF, income of all by 50K
    6) To retain the right of government status quo on retrospective taxes and again a committee further to boost investments.
    7) It’s just 45 days for the government and you want results on DTC issues and what not. Still the good thing to close this chapter in positive note by the end of this year
    8) FDIs increased in Defence & insurance again to boost growth
    List is endless. Exceptions are there but a few as to what you wrote a whole article over river fund allocation and statue of unity funds. If you had tried written the other side, the write-up would be worth reading & informative thus creating positive opinion amongst people

    lastly just quoting the 1st line of Mr FM’s speech:
    “Its not wise to expect everything that can be done to be done in the first budget announced within first 45 days of formation of the Government”

  4. Prashant Kaushik

    The world is full of such intellectuals who would cry foul at Modi’s attempt at building an architectural marvel, and who flock to foreign locations to waste an years saving’s on Honeymoon tourism there.
    Not directed to you Mr Mayank, but I am sick of many dozens of people who spend a plethora of foreign Currencies just to get an Eiffel tower or London’s eye pic in their honeymoon albums. The same breed of learned people, after having contributed in the rising demand of Dollar currency and Rupee fall, come back home and cry a lot that money is being wasted in India on useless structures!!!!

    We can waste Couple of year’s earning on stupid marriage functions to fake our richness , burn entire months salaries on Diwali /New year celebrations , but when some one is spending 200 crore /1800000 crore i.e. 0.0001 fraction of Budget on building a National Memorial, then suddenly our prudence for Expenditure is awakened !!

    And Mr Writer, are you going to give us a final rating of this budget based just upon the entitlement of this 0.01 %age of Budget ??
    Any talk of the remaining 99.99 % ?

    1. Umm Hello !?!!

      Firstly the statue is allocated 200 crore from the Union budget;The entire cost of building the statue is estimated around 2500 crore;I respect your sentiment but there is a difference between countries like India and UK/France.I’m not saying this in a way to insult India but we have serious problems we need to deal with – The major ones being Malnutrition – About 2/3rd of the country still doesn’t get 3 square meals a day
      Infrastructure – Indian infrastructure is seriously lagging behind.
      Education – We still are lagging behind in providing basic education to most people.There is a serious need of more schools especially in the rural areas and the ones that are already there are in a sordid state.Even private instituitions are not up to the mark.And again we need more ‘Quality’ colleges.Think in the 2500 crores spent on the statue,How many colleges could have been built?

      These are just sliver of Problems;The list goes on & on & on !

      You say about us burning our pockets on foreign vacations ; How many percent of Indians do you think can afford a vacation in a destination in India itself let alone think of foreign destinations like UK or France.I’d say less than 5-10 percent.

      And you are comparing chalk & cheese.We are public ;Our job is to vote ;Pay our taxes dutifully; Follow rules and be good citizens;If we do this then we are justified to spend our money wherever the hell we want as this Is a democracy and we are all entitled to our personal choices. They on the other hand are in the government.Its their job to govern this nation without spending colossal amounts on useless projects.

      So I would suggest you use your conscience and think if we really need that statue.We already have enough monuments which are seriously illmaintained.

      Maybe when we are a developed nation with none of those problems ;Hell yes we should build such statues and many other more artifacts for Indians and the world to adore.But for now We don’t need it!Period!!

    2. Prashant Kaushik

      How can u so easily underestimate the foreign currencies which people of this country spend in tourist activities on foreign shores ?
      If that precious money is spent within India, it can generate far more employment opportunities that that token of subsidy of Rs 200 Crore could.
      For me its a moral duty and a pledge that I will spend my precious honeymoon money in some Sikkim, Rajasthan or Kerala or some other Indian territory, .. so that my own people get the economic benefit out of that extra money.
      But here lies the hypocrisy, people have no remorse in contributing in the growth of western elitist economies, and then come back to cry foul at an Indian’s attempt to create an architectural marvel.

      You just cant have double standards for your personal life and the government of India.
      Ethics are universal and they don’t change even if you earn handsome and have paid your taxes.

      And I don’t know why you are unnecessarily linking that 200 Crore with malnourishement/ illiteracy. I guess that’s an emotional trap.
      Schemes and programs to address malnourished or illiterate people, such as Mid-day meal, Right to food, Universal education are already existing and they run into whooping LAKHS OF CRORES OF Rupees. A 200 Crore more or less, will hardly make a difference there.

      Moreover, There is no dearth of schemes and budgetary allocation for literacy and malnourished. What lacks is there implementation as all money is eaten up by corrupt bugs of middlemen. Even if we were to add 400 Crore Rs, that would hardly make a difference there.

      Get out of your comfort zone and stop being a sadistic critic.

    3. LOL

      So you think one statue will bring a radical change in the tourist industry ? Lol

      We already have a host of monuments which are seriously unmaintained.In fact India has one of the largest number of UNESCO heritage sites which are around 32 and still many places exist which are worthy of receiving this status but are not recognised,Again due to the lack of interest & duty by the government.So even if we want to allocate a portion of budget for monuments,Let us first maintain the existing ones and then go on further creating new ones.

      And you say foreign funds.Again mister,India is one of the top tourist destinations in the world.We already receive a high sum of foreign funds from tourists of other countries,And may recieve more if government as well as Public do more.Anyways as I said earlier,very few Indians can afford the luxury of a vacation and most of them select a destination in India itself due to cost.And Why shouldn’t Indians go abroad when they have the chance? Why shouldnt we learn about other cultures ?

      And sir,As I said the entire cost of the statue is 2500 crores.200 crores is just the budget allocated to the statue from the Union budget.Now call me sadist but I’d rather that money be diverted to anything use full like I dunno ;Women’s security or Education or anything which is productive.

      How do you plan to recover 2500 crores in a short span of time ?Do you expect people to come on their honeymoons to see the statue? Do the maths !

    4. Prashant Kaushik

      You have created a loop bringing same stale arguments over and over again. You are rigid and adamant not to come out of that vicious circle, and I don’t want to repeat them the 3rd time, though you may derive pleasure in quoting them again and again.
      Worse, you have mixed up some nuisance wrong facts (such as India getting enough number of tourists )
      Against my desire, I am explaining you again. ( and Last time)
      200rs crore figure is a minuscule amount compared to Lakhs of Crores of Rs which are allocated every year (including this year) to Education, Health , Food and so called social welfare schemes. 200 Crore don’t make any difference there.
      Go read the budget. If you don’t understand read it again. Refer the entire script than just an opinionated biased column. If you still don’t understand consult some one who has read and has good knowledge of budget, policies, history more than you.

      Now coming to other points raised by you.
      No. of tourists arriving in India is less than half of those visiting a tiny city sized country like Singapore. Yes we should take care of existing monuments, but there is no harm in creating another monument which serve dual purpose of tourism as well as National pride. Most existing monuments are legacy of a colonial humiliation. Nothing worthwhile has been created in free Independent India, which could symbolize and strengthen our pride, our unity, our confidence and our faith in our selves .
      The monuments made in free India were restricted to Gandhi-Nehru family or some individualistic political party.

      Here we have a monument, which cuts across all party line, all races, all castes, all regions, all languages. I don’t bother who is building it and for what purpose he built, all that matters is that tomorrow when it stands tall in glory, every child who sees it will feel inspired by it.
      If I want to pray I have a thousand temples or Church or Mosques to go, But what if I want to pray to my motherland ? Hardly a place dedicated for this purpose.

      Most middle class families who don’t spend even 2-5 lakhs on their child education easily spend 10-30 lakhs on marriage.
      MNC spend hundereds of crores to build their image.
      Example are many.
      So Why do you have a problem when a meager 200 Crore allocated to Showcase the idea of a United Strong, Confident and Resurgent India.
      Now, don’t drag Food, Education problems again for a 4th time. Am repeating it again, for them, we do have separate departments and schemes which get thousands time more than this 200 Crore.

      P.S. If you have any fresh arguments, you are welcome to bring them.
      If you bring the same stale or wrong facts, I would rather cease replying on this thread.

    5. Gaurav

      I completely agree with you, indians will go abroad to see ….. statue of libert (america) or eiffel tower but we do not want statue of unity,
      as indians we need to introspect what makes us feel so inferior .
      Why have we lost our self esteem ? those who talk about money should know that the monument will also be a tourist attraction and money will be recovered by the boost to tourism. so why are we hiding behind 200 crore or more.

    6. Gaurav

      Larsen and Tobrou have bid for the project, there bid is 2980 crore and it will take 42 months to build. so let L&T build it as a tourist attraction. btw there is a war memorial also coming up. hope indians do not find that objectionable

    7. Aman

      Well yes it can be said that the Government has thought that building a statue would increase revenue by increasing tourism…But the argument that indians spend a lot of money on wanting to see Eiffel tower or going abroad is an ludicurous argument…As Indians going to France/US/China dont just see Eiffel tower or statues ..they see and do many things in France or any other destination. You cannot stop them (That too by building a statue never) no matter what as it is there will and wish to see the world….infact many must have seen India as well from North to South..Just like a person in France irrespective of been having an Eifel tower will definately want to come to India (or for that sake may even go to Africa to experience the Jungle adventure) if he can afford to do that and yes the reason will not just be Statue of Unity but all possible things that he can do or visit in his stay…We Indians are very obssesed and money minded …If it would have been only Eifel tower or statue of Liberty do you think any of them would have gone there….Never…

      But yes i back the decission of the government as they should have some Fiscal space to implement there own decissions or invest on some matters for inclusive growth…and 200 crores is just a nominal amount….And if it is going to fetch 1000 crores say in 5 or 10 years it is still a good buisness deal that i would say….Lastly i would say it is good that people are doing an excellent Job of beign a critique as well as demanding …..As this sends a clear message that nothing of the mistakes that they did in the past are going to be repeated and every decission of the governement is under scrutiny….Good going India ,…This is how Democracy is actually wining…

More from Mayank Jain

Similar Posts

By Shraddha Iyer

By Mumtaz Rehman

By shakeel ahmad

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

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.

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

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 Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’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.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below