New Delhi, Feb 2: In a nutshell, if we don't go into the finer details, the Union Budget 2018 could be easily termed as the Narendra Modi government's gift to the 'underdogs'.
From farmers, poor to rural masses, finance minister Arun Jaitley focused on the disadvantaged groups of society in the last full-year budget of the Modi government before the 2019 general elections and ahead of eight state elections this year.
The FM in the budget also took into considerations the needs and aspirations of the minorities-- Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.
On Thursday in Parliament, Jaitley announced a decent increase in the budgetary allocation for programmes related to the welfare of the SCs and STs.
Jaitley announced an increase in the number of "Eklavya schools"--meant for the minorities--which the cabinet minister equated with Navodaya Vidyalayas.
"By 2022, every block with more than 50 per cent ST population and at least 20,000 tribal people will have an Ekalavya school on par with Navodaya Vidyalayas," said Jaitley.
The allocation of funds for SCs and STs has been increased to Rs 56,619 crore and Rs 39,135 crore respectively for 2018-2019. The amount given to the SC will be used for 279 programmes for the community and the money allotted for the ST will be used for 305 programmes for the section.
In 2017-18, the revised estimate of earmarked allocation for SCs was Rs 52,719 crore and Rs 32,508 crore for STs, Jaitley informed.
The Minority Affairs Ministry also got a raise of Rs 505 crore from Rs 4,197 crore in 2017-18 to Rs 4,700 for the next fiscal year. Union Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi expressed happiness over the "record" hike in the budgetary allocation to his ministry.
"The record increase in the ministry's budget will definitely help attain socio-economic and educational empowerment of minorities, ensure their development with dignity," said Naqvi.
Officials in the ministry also pointed out that in 2014-15, the ministry's budgetary allocation was Rs 3,711 crore and in 2015-16 and 2016-17 it was increased to Rs 3,713 and Rs 3,800 crore respectively.
It seems all the monetary incentives given to the marginalised sections of society will reap benefits for the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in all the upcoming elections.