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Online Survey Shows India’s Union Budget 2022-23 Received a Thumbs-Down from the Middle-Class

An online survey conducted by Statscope, an end-to-end consumer research company has concluded that India’s Union Budget 2022-23 received a thumbs-down from its middle-class voters.

44.4% of the surveyed respondents were “very dissatisfied” whereas 5.6% were “moderately dissatisfied” with the budget presented by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on February 1st 2022.

In a big set-back to the ruling party, 38.9% of the surveyed respondents were “very dissatisfied” with the Economic Policies of the Current Central Government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

On the government’s ability to control inflation, nearly half of the surveyed respondents were “very dissatisfied” with another 5.6% expressing “moderately dissatisfied”. Back in December 2020, India’s retail inflation stood at 4.59%.

The economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in India has been largely disruptive. India’s growth in the fourth quarter of the fiscal year 2020 went down to 3.1% according to the Ministry of Statistics. However, an overwhelming 51.9% of the surveyed respondents were “satisfied” with how the Narendra Modi Government has handled COVID impact on the Indian Economy.

Darshan Walawalkar, one of the architects of the online survey and the co-founder of Statscope, believes that the Union Budget failed to hit the right notes with the middle-class voters of India. “India’s middle class found very little to no comfort in the Budget 2022 as per our survey. From income tax relief to exempting provident fund investments from taxation, the middle class had a voluminous list of expectations. The middle class feels betrayed by the budget. Furthermore, the honourable Finance Minister’s unapologetic remarks did not help the cause.”

Arun Durairajan, the co-architect of the online survey and the co-founder of Statscope said “The reason why the current Budget fails to enthuse people is due to non-containment of Inflation which leads to price rise. With the Covid-19 disrupting the life of common people, the expectation was on the high especially from the middle class contingent making us feel the government had missed a trick”.

Swachh Bharat Mission and Digital India receive seal-of-approval

Out of the overall survey respondents, 66.7% have given their seal-of-approval to various government schemes. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ambitious Swachh Bharat Mission (22.2%) and Digital India (20.4%) were the most voted for of all the government schemes.

According to the government data, since the beginning of the mission, it has achieved 105 per cent of the total target in constructing individual household toilets, 118 per cent in constructing community and public toilets.

Digital India has emerged as the second-fastest digital adapter among seventeen major digital economies. The Union government has stated the possibility of India’s digital economy growing from about $200 billion in 2017 to $800 billion to $1 trillion by 2025 at current prices.

Filling of vacant Judicial Vacancies and Including Fuel under GST among top demands

Presently, fuel is kept outside the purview of GST because petrol and diesel is the major source of revenue for the government. 29.6% of the overall survey respondents want the government to bring fuel under the ambit of GST. Currently, fuel is taxed at more than 100% in India and contributed almost 6 lakh crore rupees to the Central and State exchequers combined in 2020-21.

Between 2010 and 2020, judicial vacancies in India increased from 18% to 21% across all levels of courts (from 6% to 12% in the Supreme Court, from 33% to 38% in High Courts, and from 18% to 20% in subordinate courts). Vacancy of judges in courts is one of the reasons for delays and a rising number of pending cases, as there are not enough judges to hear and decide cases. 27.8% of the overall survey respondents want the government to fill the vacancies.

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and Minister of Road Transport and Highways of India Nitin Gadkari top approval ratings

The survey showed Defence Minister Rajnath Singh occupying the pole position with an approval rating of 27.8%. India announced a defence capital budget of ₹ 1.52 lakh crore as against the revised estimates of ₹ 1.38 lakh crore for the current fiscal. The cumulative increase in the capital budget since 2019-20 has been ₹ 48,975 crore (47.37 per cent).

The Defence Acquisition Procedure (DAP) established in 2020 has acted as a potential catalyst for the “Make In India” scheme, in the sector of defence manufacturing.

Nitin Gadkari, was a near-second with 25.9% approval ratings. In 2021, 13,298 kms of highway was constructed across India as per the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways. The Government of India has allocated ₹ 111 lakh crore (US$ 1.4 trillion) under the National Infrastructure Pipeline for FY 2019-25 as the roads sector is likely to account for 18% capital expenditure over FY 2019-25.

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitaraman and Railways Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw (16.7%) were a joint third-place.

Home Minister Amit Shah’s lower than expected approval ratings (13%) showcased a strong under-current of dissatisfaction for failing to curtail the farmers’ protest.

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