"Our Focus On Poor, Women, Youth, Farmers": Nirmala Sitharaman

The Finance Minister said the focus of the BJP-led government has been on inclusive development.

'Our Focus On Poor, Women, Youth, Farmers': Nirmala Sitharaman

Ms Sitharaman said the country progresses when these groups progress.

New Delhi:

Presenting her sixth straight Budget ahead of the Lok Sabha elections, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Thursday asserted that the BJP-led government at the Centre has worked with an approach to development that is "all-round, all-inclusive and all-pervasive" ('sarvangin', 'sarvasparshi' and 'sarvasamaveshi').

Stating that her government's vision of development covers all castes and people at all levels, Ms Sitharaman said the aim is to make India a 'Viksit Bharat' (Developed Bharat) by 2047. In keeping with this vision, the finance minister said, "As our Prime Minister firmly believes, we need to focus on four major castes, they are gareeb (poor), mahilayein (women), yuva (youth) and annadata (farmers). Their needs, their aspirations and their welfare are our highest priority."

"The country progresses when they progress. All four require, and receive, government support in their quest to better their lives. Their empowerment and well-being will drive the country forward," she said in her speech while presenting the Interim Budget.

Claiming that the earlier approach of tackling poverty through entitlements had resulted in "very modest outcomes", the finance minister said the government's power to assist the poor increases manifold when they become empowered partners in the development process.

Emphasising the government's focus on 'sabka saath', Ms Sitharaman said the government has assisted 25 crore people to get "freedom from multidimensional poverty" in the ten years it has been in office. In the same vein, she also spoke about the gains that have accrued from direct benefit transfers and avoidance of leakages.

The finance minister also highlighted the PM Swanidhi scheme, which provides credit assistance to street vendors, the PM Janman Yojana, which reaches out to particularly vulnerable tribal groups, and the PM Vishwakarma Yojana, which supports artisans and craftspeople.

Continuing with the emphasis on inclusive development, she said, "The schemes for empowerment of divyangs and transgender persons reflect the firm resolve of our government to leave no one behind."

Helping 'Annadatas'

Ms Sitharaman said, under the PM Kisan Samman Yojana, direct financial assistance is provided to 11.8 crore farmers every year. She said several other programmes also assist the 'annadatas' in producing food for the country and the world.

Stressing that India's prosperity depends on equipping and empowering the youth, or 'Amrit Peedhi', the finance minister said the National Education Policy 2020 is bringing in transformational reforms and 1.4 crore youth have been trained under the Skill India Mission. She pointed to new institutions of higher learning being established, including 7 IITs and 15 AIIMS, and said the country is also "proud of our youth scaling new heights in sports".

Women's Reservation

On women, who also constitute a significant vote bank, Ms Sitharaman said, "The empowerment of women through entrepreneurship, ease of living, and dignity for them has gained momentum in these ten years."

Apart from highlighting 30 crore Mudra Yojana loans given to women entrepreneurs, the finance minister also pointed out that the BJP-led government has made 'Triple Talaq' illegal and passed a bill to reserve one-third of seats in the Lok Sabha and State legislative assemblies for women.