Fiscal and Sustainable Development Goals: the first of a million steps to net zero

The hallmark of the budget lies in the courage of conviction shown by the Minister of Finance after the budget during the meeting with the press and the private conversation on Sunday afternoon with India Inc during the meeting of the executive of FICCI.

By Ashok Pandey

The Union Budget for FY23, presented by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, seeks to lay the groundwork and provide a blueprint to guide the economy over the next 25 years, described as the Amrit Kaal . The hallmark of the budget lies in the courage of conviction shown by the Minister of Finance after the budget during the meeting with the press and the private conversation on Sunday afternoon with India Inc during the meeting of the executive of FICCI.

The budget proposals have three flagships: the 2021-22 economic study, the 2021 UN SDG report and the presentation of the budget to Parliament. Based on the transparency of financial statements and the budgetary situation, its fundamental principles reflect the government’s intention, strengths and challenges, as well as the nationally determined commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Under the provisions of the SDGs, health and well-being, economic and employment opportunities, and peace and prosperity for all must be ensured. The task of government is to provide infrastructure, institutions of excellence, equity and political structure. How will this Budget be assessed from a sustainability perspective?

  1. Restart education: The budget, concerning the education sector, emphasizes digital equity, professional development, strengthening employability, accessibility to education, well-being and the formation of human capital. There will be a shift in approach from receiving general training and the market sales model to detecting, training and responding to the industry model. A proposal to set up 750 virtual science and math labs, and 75 skills e-labs for the simulated learning environment, can revolutionize vocational training.
  2. Technology and AI for Social Good: There is a push to maximize new technologies for social good. “Kisan drones” will be promoted for crop assessment, digitization of land records and spraying of insecticides and nutrients. In some ITIs, the courses required for the skills will be launched in all states. Quality education will be universalized through PM eVIDYA’s “One TV Channel, One Classroom” program covered on 200 TV channels. AI use cases in geospatial systems, space economics, genomics and pharmaceuticals, green energy and clean mobility systems have immense potential to help achieve the SDGs.
  3. Reaching Ambitious Districts: The program of “ambitious districts” aimed at improving the condition of the less developed districts of the country is underestimated. The FM said, “Our vision to improve the quality of life for citizens in the most backward districts of the country through the Achieving Districts Program (ADP) has come to fruition in a short time. Ninety-five percent of the 112 districts have made significant progress in key sectors such as health, nutrition, financial inclusion and basic infrastructure. They exceeded the state average values ​​on many parameters. »
  4. CoP26 Commitment: Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced at the CoP26 meeting in Glasgow that India would achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2070. He linked climate change to lifestyle changes. This is reflected in the budget announcement for the ambitious target of 280 GW of installed solar capacity by 2030, an additional allocation of Rs 19,500 crore for PLI to manufacture high-efficiency modules, with priority to units fully integrated manufacturing processes from polysilicon to solar photovoltaic modules. . The low-carbon development strategy as set out in the “panchamrit” announced by the Prime Minister is a key reflection of the government’s commitment to sustainable development.
  5. Focus on higher education: Building on last year’s budget promise to increase HEI enrollment from 26% to 50%, the budget proposes concrete measures.

World-class foreign universities and institutions will be allowed in the GIFT city to offer courses in financial management, fintech, science, technology, engineering and mathematics, free from national regulations. In addition, five existing academic institutions will be designated as centers of excellence to develop India-specific urban planning and design knowledge and deliver certified training with an endowment of Rs 1,250 crore.

Equity and excellence ensure the sustainability of a country. No finance minister can afford to defy Paco’s law: “Your expenses will be equal to what you have to spend.” With the annual budget bandwidth expanding year by year, the FM did so, leaving no one in doubt by quoting the Mahabharata: “The king shall make provision for the welfare of the people by abandoning all laxity and governing the state in accordance with the dharma.

The author is Principal, Ahlcon Group of Schools, Delhi

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