Union Budget 2020: Here’s What You Need To Know

In her 2020 Union Budget speech, one of the first things that Finance Minister, (FM) Nirmala Sitharaman, said, was that the people of India gave PM Modi a massive mandate in 2019. She termed GST historic and also mourned the passing of Arun Jaitley, and called him the architect of GST.

She talked about vibrant India. She listed Ayushman Bharat, UPI, affordable housing through PMAY, etc. The FM said that we have moved on from a growth rate of just over 4% to around 7% in 2014-19. Inflation was 9% in the last two decades and India is now the fifth-largest economy in the world.

 “The fundamentals of the economy are strong, and that has ensured macroeconomic stability. Inflation is under control”, the Minister reported.

Finance Minister, (FM) Nirmala Sitharaman, giving her budget speech in the Lok Sabha. Feb 1st, 2020.

She added that the three prominent themes in the budget are — aspirational India, economic development for all, and a caring society, that is both humane, and compassionate. She appreciated the digital revolution in India.

Furthermore, she recited a Kashmiri poem, in Hindi, with translates to, “Our country is like a blooming Shalimar Bagh, Our country is like a lotus blooming in Dal Lake”.

She added, “Everything that the government does and aims to do is for this pyaara vatan (beloved country)”.

Action Plan For Agriculture

FM Sitharaman announced a 16-point action plan for agriculture, and also added that it will double farmer’s income by 2022.  She claimed the government will focus on 100 water-stressed districts and will help 15 lakh farmers to get solar pumps.

She explained that a total of 6.11 crore farmers are insured under the Fasal Bima Yojna and said that hand-holding of farm-based activities needs to be done. This, she said, can be done in cooperation with states. She stressed on PM KUSUM Yojana and said: “Annadata can be Urjadata too”.

The new budget allocates Rs 2.83 lakh crores for agro and allied sectors. It stresses a balanced use of all fertilizers and proposes the Agri credit target for 2020-21, pegged at Rs 15 lakh crore.

National Railway Project

The FM said that the Railway will launch ‘Kishan Rail’ for cold storage, through the public-private-partnership PPP model. By 2030, India will have the largest working population. She proposed FDI and ECB in education; to make the ‘Study in India’ program attractive, an INDSAT exam has been proposed, to be held in Asian and African countries.

Education And Swachch Bharat

A new education policy is to be announced soon, and local bodies will offer internships for fresh engineers. The FM proposed setting up of a National Police University and Forensic University. She also proposed Rs 12,300 crore for the ‘Swachch Bharat mission’.
Furthermore, Rs 99,300 crore for the education sector and Rs 3,000 crore for skill development were proposed; and a medical college would be attached to the existing district hospital on the PPP model.

Textiles And Commerce

To attract investments in electronics, the FM proposed a scheme to increase investment. She also proposed a National Technical Textiles Mission, with an outlay of ₹1,480 crores over 4 years to cut down imports. To make every district an export hub, the budget will provide ₹27,300 crores for development, and promotion of industry, and commerce, in 2021. She proposed a Bengaluru suburban rail project for ₹18,600 crores.

Highways, Airports

A Chennai-Bengaluru Expressway will be started, to monetize 12 lots of national highways by 2024. 100 more airports will be developed by 2024 to support UDAN, and 22,000 crores will be allocated to power and the renewable energy sector.

Gas Grid

Proposal for expansion of the National gas grid from 16,200 km to 27,000 km was announced. The FM also said, that very soon, there will be a policy to allow private players to build data centres parks in India.

Bharat Net

Fibre to home connections will be provided via Bharat Net, that will link 1 lakh gram panchayats this year. The Bharat Net program will be allocated ₹6,000 crores. She proposed to provide Rs.8,000 crores, over five years, for the National Mission on Quantum Technology and Applications.

‘Beti Bachao Beti Padao’, Senior Citizens, SCs, STs And OBCs

The FM hailed ‘Beti Bachao Beti Padao’ scheme and allocated 35,600 crores for nutrition-related programs. She further announced 9,000 crores for senior citizens and persons with disabilities, Rs 53,700 crore for ST development and Rs 85,000 crore for SC and OBC development.

Archaeological Sites

The minister also announced that five archaeological sites are to be developed, in Rakhigarhi, Haryana; Hastinapur, UP; Sivasagar, Assam; Dholavira, Gujarat; Adichanallur, and Tamil Nadu. Also, the Indian Institute of Heritage and Conservation is to be set up, with the status of a deemed university.

MSMEs (Micro, Small And Medium Enterprises)

The turnover threshold for an audit of MSMEs is to be increased from Rs 1 crore to Rs 5 crore, and for those businesses, which carry out less than 5 percent of their business in cash. Dividend Distribution Tax (DDT) was also abolished and now companies need not pay DDT.

She also proposed an investment clearance cell for entrepreneurs, to provide information related to land banks, pre-investment advisory, and facilitate clearances.
She added that the government will grant a 100% exemption for sovereign wealth funds in infrastructure.

Tax On Cooperative Societies

A reduction in tax on cooperative societies from 30% to 22% was proposed. Also, the government will list LIC on the stock exchange.

Income Tax

The FM announced that the government will introduce a taxpayer charter and make it a part of the statute; this will avoid citizen harassment.

The FM talked about simplification of Income-tax, she added “an individual pays 20% on income between ₹5 lakh and 10 lakh” and the process is burdensome, so she proposed a new simplified PIT regime, wherein IT rates will be significantly reduced for those who forgo 70 exemptions.

  • For income between ₹5 lakh and ₹7.5 lakh, citizens can now pay 10% instead of the present 20%.
  • For incomes between ₹7.5 lakh to ₹10 lakh, the income tax rate has been reduced to 15% from 20% presently.
  • Similarly, for income between ₹10 lakh to ₹12.5 lakh, the tax is currently 30% that is now being brought down to 20%.
  • For those earning between ₹12.5-15 lakh will be charged 25%.
  • Those earning above ₹15 lakh will continue to pay 30%.

We can understand this from this table:

She also clarified that it is optional; those who want to be in the old process with exemptions can continue to pay at the old rates. “A new personal income tax rate will entail an estimated revenue foregone of ₹40,000 crores per year”, as reported here.

She further added, that more than 100 exemptions of different natures are currently provided in the IT act, and she has removed 70 of them in the new regime and the rest of the exemptions will be reviewed in the coming years.

Instant PAN

Instant PAN based on Aadhaar has also been proposed. Aadhaar-based verification for GST compliance to be introduced to identify fake names. To boost ‘Make in India’, imports under FTA have been increased. There will be a customs duty hike on footwear and furniture.

The Finance Minister cut-short the speech, after two hours and forty-one minutes, because she was feeling unwell. This is being called the longest budget speech ever.“She told the Lok Sabha that there were only two more pages and the Budget should be considered read.”

 

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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 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.

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