Budget Session starting Monday is going to be the third Parliamentary session of the Modi government. Besides, General and Rail Budgets, many more important Bills will be presented in this session. The way last session had been the victim of senseless uproar over the issue of Ghar Wapasi (reconversion), it would not be wrong to say that this session might also face some unwanted heat. It was the non functioning of the last session which forced Modi government to bring the Ordinances on several crucial issues. Even the President also expressed his displeasure over promulgation of Ordinances. In his address to the nation on the eve of the Independence Day, President Pranab Mukherjee clearly outlined that following Ordinance route in democracy is not a good idea. The Budget Session is being held at a time when BJP in the recent past has miserably lost Delhi Assembly elections which exuded a notion that the Prime Minister Narendra Modi's political charisma has lost its luster. Though there are many political reasons behind the Delhi poll debacle including the worst ever performance of the Congress but this fact cannot be denied that the Delhi polls result has forced the Modi government to introspect. Now, the government have to rethink about its policies and future programmes.
General Budget is the major policy document for any government. Budget reflects government's future plans, programmes and economic strategies. It is not compulsory for the Centre to take all policy related decision in the Budget itself. Despite this it has become more of tradition as every time  whole nation awaits for the announcements made in General Budget. Right from the  common man to the industry, each and everyone in the country look up to the government for the steps taken for their welfare. Currently, India is not facing the economic crisis the way it was facing one or two years back. One of the major reason behind this is the falling price of international crude oil which has lessen the burden of Indian economy. If this factor excluded, things are more or less same as before. Neither the investment climate has improved nor the productivity has increased. Agriculture sector has also not witnessed any fundamental improvement. Since the presentation of Interim Budget, the expectations of common people from the Modi government has increased. The good news is that the country has almost arrived at a general consensus over Goods and Services tax (GST). This is the most significant improvement of the economy and should not be delayed in implementation. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley is expected to make an announcement over GST in Budget. Any such announcement will bring a sigh of relief to all from a common man to an industrialist and it will also send a positive message to the bureaucracy. In this case, the political parties should also consider that their differences should not hinder the reform process. It is not good that all big or small reforms face obstruction just because of petty politics.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has restrained himself from making any big ticket announcement in Interim Budget but this time he has the opportunity to give the economy a new direction. It will be interesting to see that what are the ways the Finance Minister will choose to bring the economy on a high growth path. Will he opt for increasing investment in infrastructure or will  take the initiative to create an environment which attracts private investment? Experts have different opinions for both the paths. Using government money to accelerate the economy can push the inflation northward. It is a fact, industrialists do not consider the current economic environment investment friendly and high interest rates is one of the main reason behind this perception. In every budget there is a concern  that the government in the name of social spending will waste the money of exchequer. In last six months, Modi government has worked remarkably to rationalize the subsidies. It is possible that Finance Minister will highlight this achievement in the forthcoming Budget. Rationalization of subsidy will have far-reaching effect on the economy. Often governments tend to make populist announcements for instant benefits. It might fetch them political gains but in the long run it will have the drastic effects on the economy. In our country the Budget speeches have been a platform for announcing instantaneous benefits. One after another, all governments have tried to gain political mileage through one year Budget plans. Due to which the basic problems of the country is constantly overlooked. Political parties are well aware of the fact that these problems are creating hurdles in the path of development but due to narrow political reasons they oppose all reform oriented initiatives.

Today all the basic economic challenges in the country need  far-reaching treatment. It is expected of the Finance Minister that he will propose measures to combat  these economic ailments in his Budget. Creaky infrastructure of the cities is also a part of these challenges. Cities are considered as source of growth. Countries across the world have registered economic growth through appropriate urbanization. Apart from carrying economic growth, planned urbanization also creates new employment opportunities. Unfortunately in our country urbanization related plans are limited to paper only due to which our cities have become a hub of devastated infrastructure, increasing pollution and illegal colonies. The kind of problem our cities are facing is enough to make any one mentally ill.  Both, the Central and State Governments have paid least attention to strengthen the urban infrastructure. Arun Jaitley in 2015 Budget has to carve out a concrete roadmap for the development of cities which can be easily implemented.

In the upcoming Budget Session, the government will not only face the challenge of sailing through its Budget but it will also face obstruction in converting those Ordinances  into a Law.  This question has cropped up because the government does not have majority in the Rajya Sabha. The Centre hopes that on the issue of key economic reforms, Congress and other major Opposition parties will support it but this seems like a distant dream as Congress has already signaled that the government should not expect any help from its side. Amid such situation it is important for the government to take the Opposition parties in confidence and chalk out a plan for smooth functioning of the Parliament. Most importantly, the Opposition parties also have to think that digging the past will neither benefit them nor the nation.

(An original copy of the article published in Hindi on February 22, 2015 translated by the English editorial. The author is the Group Editor of Dainik Jagran)