Narendra Modi has unveiled his first budget as India’s new prime minister for the 2014-2015 fiscal year. This was India’s first glimpse at the type of leader he intends to become, and while some are applauding his plans for India's development, others aren't happy with the inclusion of a ‘wasteful’ $34-million statue.
When Modi was first elected to serve as India’s prime minister a few months ago, he promised the country that important political issues would be tackled. These changes included creating jobs for all Indian youth, expanding India's industry, and encouraging foreign investment. With a prediction of 1 million people entering the job market each month over the next 15 years, about 12 million jobs per year, Modi's government has high expectations to significantly increase India's industry in order to allow this growth to occur.
However, up until July 10, 2014, when his budget was released, the majority of those promises were solely vocalized during Modi’s campaign trail. Mayank Jain at Youth Ki Awaaz opines, “The budget is government’s show of commitment to things which could definitely come much lower in our list of priorities.”
In a nutshell, the budget detailed plans with a general theme of drastically increasing India’s annual growth both economically and agriculturally through practices such as implementing a more uniform national sales tax and increasing the tax-to-GDP ratio (in light of the recent task force created by Modi charged with locating India’s black money). In addition, Modi announced the construction of numerous infrastructure projects such as railways, airports, and roads, which he promised to build during his campaign trial.
The budget showed the world that he intended to bring the change to India that he promised to during the campaign trail. Subsequently, there were numerous mixed reactions throughout social media regarding different aspects of Modi’s budget. Some felt that the budget illustrated the progress that Modi promised during the campaign trail, while others believed that there were certain aspects of the budget which were unnecessary and a waste of funds.
For example, the budget detailed plans to begin the construction of the world's tallest statue in Gujarat, India, where Modi formerly served as governor. The statue, called the “Statue of Unity,” was set to be about 600 feet tall and feature a museum along with an underwater aquarium. While Modi’s budget stated that the construction of the statue would cost about $34 million, a report from Scroll India states that the construction could cost up to $415 million.
According to Modi, “The taller the statue will be, the more India will be known at the global stage.” Half a billion dollars certainly isn't pocket money, and for a country that strives to become more developed, there are a more than a few people who are unhappy with the decision.
Being Indian, a blog which strives to give a firsthand perspective of being from India, feels that the construction of the statue is simply a way for Indian politicians to profit off of its failure:
The politicians and builders stand to gain though. So who are we to stop them from milking the nation dry?! We all know what’s gonna happen. This monument will take years to build, after which it’ll start cracking or even collapsing due to use of substandard materials. More money will be pumped into the project in the name of repairs. And it won’t stand a chance against the Statues of Liberty and the Eiffel Towers of the world.
However, there are some Indians such as Satvik Patel, a doctor from Mumbai, take pride in the statue. Patel feels that India should learn to respect their own country before others:
— Dr.Satvik Patel (@DrSatvikPatel) July 12, 2014
Despite the widespread controversy over the construction of the Statue of Unity, there are still many who support Modi's new budget and feel that he is a necessary change in order to transform India into a developed country.
Equinox Logic, a local think tank which aims to provide solutions in city planning, tweeted their support regarding the direction that Modi is taking the country in:
— equinoxlogic (@equinoxlogic) July 16, 2014
Anurag Singh, a general manager at Ingram Micro, praised Modi’s plans towards tax exemption in India: “The increase in tax exemption and PPF savings is a very good move and it shows that Modi’s government is moving in the right direction.”
Ranjan, and Indian online journalist, also went on to praise Modi’s tax exemptions by comparing his budget to Delhi’s:
— Ranjan (@RanjanSri2001) July 18, 2014
While there are many mixed feelings regarding the implications of Modi’s new budget, the world will simply have to wait and see if he will follow through on his campaign promises and transform India into a more developed nation. What do you think? Is Modi’s new 2014 budget as effective as it could be?