In the middle of his Budget speech, Piyush Goyal, the interim Finance Minister, stopped to talk about a vision of the future. What would the NDA government do if it were still around in 2030?
"We have resolved many problems which were coming in the way of realising our full potential as a society and an economy. We are poised to become a $5 trillion economy in the next five years and aspire to become a $10 trillion economy in the next eight years thereafter," he said.
He went on to present a "ten-dimensional vision" that would eventually "create an India where poverty, malnutrition, littering and illiteracy would be a matter of the past. India would be a modern, technology driven, high growth, equitable and transparent society".
Much of the vision statement reads like a jobs plan - sectors and programmes that could scale and employ truckloads of people. Or help people earn higher income. Even though they are set in 2030, a few of them appear to be an improved version of what the BJP stated in its manifesto of 2014. This is boring but true. Old wine in a new bottle.
One dimension is to make India self-sufficient in food: "Exporting to the world to meet their food needs and producing food in the most organic way. High farm production and productivity will be achieved through modern agricultural practices and value addition."
Circle back to 2014. The BJP manifesto promised setting up of an 'Organic Farming and Fertilizer Corporation of India' to promote organic farming and support marketing of organic produce. The manifesto also spoke of creating cluster-based storage systems, and of course, incentivising food processing. "Implement and incentivise the setting up of the food processing industry that has remained just a plain talk till now. This will lead to better income for farmers and create jobs," the manifesto read.
Yet another dimension pointed out in this year's Budget was about "expanding rural industrialisation using modern digital technologies to generate massive employment". This vision outlined that grass-roots level manufacturing clusters would be developed as also structures "encompassing the MSMEs, village industries and start-ups spread in every nook and corner of the country". In 2014, rural industrialisation had a services twist. The manifesto, nevertheless, also spoke of setting up of dedicated W-SME (Women Small and Medium Enterprises) clusters in every district. SMEs, BJP stated, are crucial for economic development: "Overall goal is to enhance the competitiveness of the SME sector leading to a larger contribution to our economic growth and employment generation".