The budget discourse may have tapered off, but the hang-up of its intensity is very much with us. That's because it has had an almost equal share of ballistic to sardonic criticism as well as enthusiastic to cautiously optimistic appreciation.
The key questions about the budget centred around its record total allocation, both revenue and developmental, resort to deficit financing, its possible knock-on effect on macro-economic stability and the degree of difficulty in implementing the budget.
A national budget is not just an instrument of macro-economic management enabling higher growth in agriculture, manufacturing and infrastructure including service sectors. It is also reflective of a pattern of growth being responsive to the need for sustainability, consistency and incremental output.
Since the growth target for the upcoming fiscal year is set at 7.8% the budget couldn't but be 'oversized'. What might have influenced the calculated risk of the finance minister is the higher revenue and export earnings in the outgoing fiscal together with good food harvests. But the revenue: GDP ratio is still low compared with that in some of the neighbouring countries. The NBR is tasked with very high collection targets.
The challenge of deficit management manifestly translates into debt liabilities that the economy is likely to be hamstrung with. The dilemma is this: an increase in public investment may impel bank borrowing which again could mean credit squeeze for private sector. The spread between interest rates on bank deposits and those on bank credits would have to be rationalised. But to generate new employment equivalent of 65 million man hours the private sector would have to come in a big way. Besides, the government might increase energy prices further to reduce subsidy requirements which could hurt agriculture.
The bottom line remains: 'financial plans must be geared to improving the common man's lot'.
The outpourings of sentiments for Rumana, the latest most horrific instance of man's barbarity on woman found expression through such phrases as 'women's bodies being sites of violence', 'architecture of misogyny and patriarchy', 'constant supply of losses of lives' and the like. One of Rumana's childhood friends who grew up with her has found 'all as part of the social fabric being an accomplice to the act'.
True, equal rights to women is not a question of development alone, but it's a fundamental human right to be guaranteed through affirmative action grounded in secular approach.
The prelude to World Population Day is marked by a worrying note: 20% of the currently married women aged 15-49 were visited by a field worker in the six months prior the 2007 family planning survey! Planned parenthood and improving the quality of manpower would have to move hand in hand.
Divinity and woman; post-Osama bin Laden new 'way forward'; 'as the means so the end', the Gandhian aphorism; putting the Arab spring in a context of new relevance; and the life in Srinagar -- all came on the radar screen.