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  Opinion   Edit  03 Feb 2024  AA Edit | Budget: South feels left out

AA Edit | Budget: South feels left out

THE ASIAN AGE.
Published : Feb 3, 2024, 1:13 am IST
Updated : Feb 3, 2024, 1:13 am IST

Challenges of budgetary disparities in southern India: a closer look at allocations

Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman presents the Interim Budget 2024 in the Lok Sabha, at Parliament House in New Delhi, Thursday, Feb. 1, 2024. (PTI Photo)
 Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman presents the Interim Budget 2024 in the Lok Sabha, at Parliament House in New Delhi, Thursday, Feb. 1, 2024. (PTI Photo)

It could be the curse of population, or demographic deficit, but the five states of southern India have combined received lesser allocations in the interim Budget than the most populous state in the country — Uttar Pradesh. While UP has received around 18 per cent of the state-wise allocations, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu has got four per cent each, Karnataka three per cent, Telangana two per cent and Kerala one per cent, adding up to around 14 per cent.

The total actual allocation for Uttar Pradesh at over Rs 1.83 crores is not only the highest in India, but also greater than the entire zone of south India, including its best performing states in terms of investments, jobs creation, infrastructure, social infra, welfare schemes, good governance and control of population.

The distribution, conducted according to 15th Finance Commission’s recommendation, have caused consternation amongst the better performing states of south India, ahead of the political delimitation and redistribution of Lok Sabha and state Assembly seats, who feel their efforts over decades to put their societies ahead in the development path, far from getting recognised and rewarded, are getting penalised.

All welfare states function on the simple principle of altruism — that the better privileged and richer must take care of the weaker ones. Besides being the most commonly available thread in all religions and philosophies, it is the core of social contract and governance globally. It is the foundational basis of the idea of progressive taxation and subsidies, and of all modern societies.

The southern Indian states, their governments and people, would never flinch from bearing a fair burden of their fellow citizens of India. At the same time, Central budgetary allocations, being done almost singularly on the premise of net population, does grave injustice. A more balanced distribution model, which not only subsidises some states based on need, must seek to simultaneously incentivise the better performing states.

We may rob Peter to pay Paul, but let us not kill Peter altogether, or risk turning him unproductive as well.

Tags: aa edit, interim budget 2024, finance minister nirmala sitharaman