Budget without many surprises

Clothes truly make a man. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley’s budget, presented to Parliament today, turned out to be constructed the manner in which he was dressed — a Modi jacket over a shirt, trousers and chappals (flip flops) for shoes. Nothing objectionable of course and yet unexceptional.

West Bengal and Bihar, the states which go to the polls soon, will receive special central assistance in addition to the increased allocation they have already got per the recommendations of the Finance Commission. This explains the renewed bonhomie between the BJP and Nitish Kumar and Didi (Mamta Banerjee) respectively, Chief Ministers of Bihar and West Bengal.

Fiscal devolution kick starts Cooperative Federalism
The biggest plus from the budget is implementation of the spirit of “cooperative federalism” by transferring 42% of Union tax proceeds to states from around 32% earlier, per the recommendations of the Finance Commission.

Transfer of an additional 20% as central grants will further boost total transfers to states to 62% of Union tax revenues. This “big bang reform” in fiscal devolution sets the stage for State governments to take direct responsibility of the functions allocated to them under the constitution. They can no longer plead a lack of resources.

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Budget 2015 reactions: Clear Vision, Making India story shine

The maiden budget presented India’s Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on February 28 has elicited a largely positive response from leading politicians, industrialists and global investors. Prime Minister Narendra Modi described Budget 2015 as “a Budget with a clear vision.” “It is a Budget that is progressive, positive, practical, pragmatic & prudent,” he said. Mr Jaitely said that it’s time for India to fly. Can India fly? Here are a spectrum of reactions on India’s Budget 2015:
Rajnath Singh, Home Minister: “It will play an important role in the formation of modern India and it will help eliminate poverty and unemployment.”
Mallikarjun Kharge, Congress: “It is just a vision document, a Budget in interest of corporates and industrialists.”

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Budget 2015: It’s time for India to fly, new steps to rev up economy

With the “world predicting that it is India’s chance to fly,” India’s Finance Minister Arun Jaitley unveiled his first full-spectrum budget that seeks to make India a manufacturing hub and announced a host of policy changes and targets to revitalise Asia’s third largest economy. These include the reduction of corporate tax from 30% to 25% over the next four years, visa on arrival to 150 countries, 46,727 crore (around $8 billion) increase in defence spending, a comprehensive new law to bring back black money stashed abroad, and the setting up of new IIT, IIMs, AIIMS.
Underlining that India is going to take off on a faster growth trajectory, Mr Jaitely presented a robust picture of the India growth story in months to come. “While global growth forecasts have come down, India’s forecasts have either been maintained or scaled up,” Mr Jaitley said in his Budget speech on February 28.
Mr Jaitely reinforced his government’s commitment to greater fiscal consolidation, saying that he will be able to meet the stated 4.1 per cent fiscal deficit target for the current fiscal year.

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Gandhi statue to shine outside British parliament

In an ironic twist and a symbol of changed times, Mahatma Gandhi, the man who liberated India from the imperial rule, will have his statue installed at Parliament Square in London.
Moving beyond historical wrongs and in a gesture that underscores robust India-Britain ties, India’s Finance minister Arun Jaitley will be inaugurating the statue in Parliament Square in London on March 12, the 85th anniversary of the day Gandhi launched the Dandi March from Sabarmati Ashram to Dandi in 1930.
British Prime Minister David Cameron has justified the decision to install a Gandhi statue alongside Britain’s war-time Prime Minister Winston Churchill and South Africa apartheid leader Nelson Mandela saying, “the initiative would lead to Britain cementing its historical connection with India.”
The installation of the statue was announced during British Foreign Secretary William Hague’s visit to India in 2014.

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Britain lauds India’s emergence, celebrates heroism of Indian soldiers

Underlining India’s emergence as “a force for good in the world,” Britain has pitched for stronger multi-faceted partnership between the two countries and honoured the over million Indian soldiers who fought in World War I.
The atmosphere at the British high commissioner’s residence was solemn as well as celebratory as British Defence Secretary Michael Fallon and India’s Defence Minister Arun Jaitley recalled the sacrifices made by Indian soldiers that helped Britain and the allied forces win the 1914-1919 war.
Fittingly, India’s defence minister unveiled the government’s plan to prepare a structured history of all the wars that the Indian Army has fought and instructed Army chief Gen. Dalbir to begin preparations for this exercise.
Mr Jaitley underlined the need to have a structured history of the contribution of Indian soldiers, both in book and the digital format.

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