Prime minister Narendra Modi described finance minister Arun Jaitley’s budget as ‘new
India budget’. Some of the highlights of this budget, at random, are: taxing long-term capital gains exceeding Rs 1 lakh on sale of equity shares/units of equity-oriented fund at 10%, without allowing any indexation benefit; addressing price volatility of perishable commodities and promoting agri-logistics and processing facilities; and levying a social welfare surcharge at 3-10% on imports in place of the education cess and the secondary and higher education cess currently in place.
Now explain that to a layman. Every time the budget is presented in the Lok Sabha, it is wrapped up in language that nobody other than economists understands. Words that nobody would even bother looking up in the dictionary for are used in an attempt to make the budget sound like a big deal when it may not really bring about any real changes in the lives of the ordinary people. If we wanted to understand what the budget was about, we would have to hire economists to explain it to us. If this is not failure to communicate on the part of the government, what is? Meanwhile the economists, who presumably understand such jargon, conduct post-mortem on the budget in an equally arcane tongue.
However, the Arunachal Pradesh Congress Committee (APCC) seems to have grasped what this year’s budget is all about. Contrary to Modi’s praise, which was inevitably picked up by chief minister Pema Khandu, the APCC described it as a ‘gol matol’ (roly-poly) budget – apparently not in a good way. It also criticized Khandu for claiming that fund sanctioned under the Bamboo Mission for the entire country had been meant for Arunachal Pradesh alone.
While it may not have been incorrect in describing Khandu’s ‘goon-gaan’ (praise) for the budget as an attempt to please the prime minister, the APCC needs to come up with a better term than ‘gol matol’ to describe the budget. After all, to most poor voters in India, being roly-poly is a sign of good health.