Chandrakant D Shah: 77-year-old retired technician Budget takeaway: Reduction in medical expenses because of Aadhar-based health cards, Arun Kejriwal: 44-year-old advocate Budget takeaway: Reduction of income tax by 5% and halving of the customs duty on LNG, Yatharth Kejriwal 14-year-old student Budget takeaway: Autonomy to colleges through UGC reforms and Varsha Kejriwal 44-year-old entrepreneur Budget takeaway: Rise in credit limit for farmers will reduce veggie prices
When the Finance Minister began to read out the Union Budget yesterday, the Kejriwal family in Kandivli West tuned in to see how the announcement would affect their financial lives in the year ahead.
44-year-old Arun Kejriwal, who is an advocate, is happy with the income tax relief provided in the budget, especially after demonetisation. "After demonetisation, every working person in this country was expecting some relief in income tax and duty charges. The 5 per cent reduction of income tax in the middle-class income group of Rs 2.5 lakh to Rs 5 lakh and halving of the customs duty on LNG to 2.5 per cent is a big relief for a family like ours and also gives us an opportunity to save our hard-earned money," said Arun.
Evaders won't quit
Arun's 77-year-old uncle Chandrakant D Shah is seemingly less optimistic about the tax relief, but only because of evaders. He said, "Though the government has reduced the income tax, it will not encourage those who try to hide their income to pay the tax." Shah, however, hopes the government will make railway stations in Mumbai friendlier for the elderly. "Being a senior citizen, it gets very difficult for me to use Mumbai's local trains. Even if 10 of Mumbai's train stations are made senior-citizen friendly, then it will make our lives easier," said Shah.
But he is happy about the introduction of Aadhar-based health cards for senior citizens. "Every month, my family spends R5,000 on my medical expenses. As such, I don't see any major changes in the budget for senior citizen but still, the Aadhar-based health card may lead to some subsidy in my medical bills," said Shah.
For Arun, the introduction of head post offices as front offices for passport services is another welcome step. "Earlier, people had to struggle from one place to other for a passport. Now at least we can issue our passports from the nearest head post office, which is a welcome step," he said. Arun also welcomed the move to drop surplus charges for booking tickets on IRCTC.
Shah, however, was impressed with the government's move to limit political transactions, "It is a bold move by the government; I don't know if any previous government has ever thought of such transparency in political funding and limiting the donation to R2,000 from one source," said Shah.
UGC reforms welcome
Meanwhile, 14-year-old Yatharth, Arun's son said his takeaway from the budget was the announcement to give more autonomy to colleges by bringing in UGC reforms. The teenager said that the move has made him rethink his plan of going abroad for further studies.
"In Mumbai, there are few autonomous institutes that stand out from other colleges in terms of imparting a good standard of education. The decision of giving independence to various colleges and institutes has inspired me to take up higher education in our country. A digital platform for giving marksheets, school leaving certificates and degrees will also reduce our burden," said Yatharth.
Yatharth's mother Varsha, a 44-year-old entrepreneur expressed satisfaction over the provision to empower women. "I run a box manufacturing business and had always wondered why women entrepreneurs are deprived of benefits in businesses. But, thankfully this year, the budget gives a priority to the women entrepreneurs also," said Varsha.
She added, "Every month I try to save money from the limited budget of our house – Rs 20,000 to Rs 25,000, but due of the changing price of vegetables and other grocery items, it never happens. But I think I would be able to save some money now as the government has given a R10 lakh-crore credit target for farmers."
Francis Joseph, Education expert
'The national education policy is being softly launched in the form of a budget. It's a welcome move to have a national testing agency, which reduces the myth that CBSE is the only board that is preparing students for entrance exams for higher education. In my view, measuring annual learning outcomes would pave a path for school accreditation and grading.'