Budget 2014

Less bang more stuff

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If the first Budget after a strong mandate is one for big ideas and agenda setting, how does Jaitley’s 2014 Budget compare with Pranab Mukherjee’s 2009 one?
The blue book of politics has it that when a party wins a big political mandate, the best time to aim big on the economic front is its first year. That is when it has the luxury of time to test and implement big, transformational ideas without an electoral report card in mind. More so, for a government that swept in on the promise of change, governance and strong leadership, as this one did.

In 2014, it is Arun Jaitley who, as Finance Minister of the BJP-led Government, stands beneath that glow of victory and expectations. Five years ago, it was Pranab Mukherjee who stood in that place, his Congress-led Government having been re-elected for a second term, free of the Left now. There are many more parallels between 2014 and 2009. The economy was faltering, the Government’s finances were in disarray and Indians at large were feeling the crush.

So, presented with a generous hand, did they aim big? And did they make the most of their opportunity? Politicians and leaders are always big on statements of intent, as Mukherjee showed in 2009 and Jaitley now. It’s the implementation that is difficult. Mukherjee read out a manifesto of change. Some things happened, some did not happen the way they should have, and some were non-starters. As for Jaitley, his time starts now, notably on these 10 facets of the economy: