22 January, 2021

Let Them Eat Schemes

Promise them the world, but don’t ask how to get there

Illustration by Saahil
Let Them Eat Schemes

If you are invited to write on the budget, it could be fun. More so if you are an economist and your finance ministry introduces a number of schemes, not all fully funded. We start with being dazzled by the promise that farmers’ income will double by 2022. Don’t ask how because we have abolished the Planning Com­mission and we will do away with Plan expenditure.  To be fair to the FM, in the funded part of the budget he has revived an old Plan scheme—the Accelerated Irrigation Benefit Progra­mme (AIBP)—with a hefty allocation. For groundwater, too, there is a dedicated fund with NABARD. I love the AIBP, having been its grand daddy since I designed it as planning minister in the mid-1990s. But, in the beginning of this century we asked the question: why is this plan not working anymore? The Twelfth Plan said we don’t know and must find out. The FM would be well advised to find the answer!

The prime minister, of course, knows the importance of irrigation. After all, he became CM in the year Sardar Sarovar water entered Gujarat and...



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