The Finance Minister’s sixth ‘six-pack’ budget is strong in intent, stronger in content and cements Bharat’s leadership position through a possible third Modi wave.

Sparing no effort and space in voice and print to highlight the achievements of Modi’s double-barrelled governance, the Finance Minister has confidently put the ball in motion, promoting economic growth as measured by Gross Domestic Product, and social enrichment through ‘Governance, Development & Performance’. This GDP growth with a difference marks the contours of Modi 3.0 and seems to be the interim Budget’s overall socio-economic philosophy.

The Budget speech showcases the multi-dimensional growth of Bharat in the last 10 years involving all the stakeholders — poor, marginalised, farmers, youth, women and also the global comity of nations. This six-pack growth story, touching many domains of growth — individual and institutional prosperity at the local, national, regional and global level — forms a perfect springboard for Viksit Bharat @ 2047 driven by the D-trinity: Democracy, Demography and Diversity.

Sectoral growth

The Amrit Kaal strategy through appropriate regulatory policies is perfect backdrop for the forthcoming May festival — democracy’s biggest pariksha. The interim Budget’s sweeping coverage of all sectoral growth in the last 10 years and the aspirational trajectory through balanced allocation of resources is a masterstroke — the ‘signing off in style’ of the last budget of Modi 2.0.

A student preparing for pariksha usually focusses on important questions. Many would have ignored minor parts concentrating on major parts of the syllabus. The Finance Minister has boldly taken the pariksha bull by its horn, leaving no stone unturned.

Revising the fiscal deficit estimate for 2023-24 to 5.8 per cent of GDP and setting a target of 5.1 per cent and 4.5 per cent of GDP for 2024-25 and 2025-26, the Finance Minister’s fiscal consolidation pathway is symptomatic of a responsible Indian household’s financial prudence.

Reducing net borrowings for 2024-25 and not engaging in mindless profligacy, the Budget unlocks the much-needed borrowings for private enterprises.

Kartavya Kaal

Private investment opportunities to strengthen the socio-economic infrastructure of India is the Budget’s ‘Kartavya Kaal’ moment for India’s Amrit Kaal. Quoting the Prime Minister who in his 75th Republic Day address said “commit ourselves to national development, with new inspirations, new consciousness, new resolutions, as the country opens up immense possibilities and opportunities”, the Budget lays down all the possible ‘kartavya options’ for creating multiplier effect capex — women and youth development, agriculture and food processing, housing, healthcare, education, research, innovation and entrepreneurship, public infrastructure development, decarbonisation, tourism, blue economy, etc.

Critics (including rating agencies) on the debt-GDP ratio continue to impose their unreasonable metrics on sovereign ratings.

The Finance Minister’s tactful policies during her tenure ensuring India’s successful manoeuvre during tough times including the pandemic, warrant a sovereign rating upgrade. When debt entered the economic houses of other developed economies, they raised the ceiling level to accommodate more while India created exit paths to suck it out periodically.

The interim Budget is a unique exam question paper with multiple-choice questions searching for the best growth option answer. To me, “all of the above” option is the correct answer for all the questions.

As a student, who not only believes in internal valuation for an exam performance but also an external valuation, the Finance Minister has released the report card for the forthcoming ‘democratic pariksha.’ In short: It is an all-pass Interim-budget.

The writer is Vice-Chancellor & TATA Sons Chair Professor of Management at SASTRA University. Views expressed are personal