Budget for India @75 is a template for Amrit Kaal

A focused, business-like approach to the budget at a time when there was pressure to come up with a populist one shows the maturity and sagacity of the Narendra Modi government. It leaves no doubt that the government is clear on long-term objectives and not too perturbed by short-term disruptions, and that it is committed to putting India on the trajectory of a high single-digit growth rate on a sustainable basis. 

The budget is high on policy stability, predictability and trust-based governance. This is evident from the fact that it has left all important provisions related to direct and indirect taxation unchanged. Government after government has tweaked the tax regime in successive budgets, but the finance minister (FM) has changed the narrative this time. The government has reaffirmed its commitment to keeping tax rates low and, at the same time, easing tax compliances by giving an opportunity to taxpayers to rectify their tax return, subject to a few conditions. 

The government has also decided to follow a sound litigation management policy and declared that if a question of law is pending before a jurisdictional high court or the Supreme Court, the tax department will not file any appeal in a matter involving the same question of law till the time it is settled. Stable and predictable policies play an important role in engendering private economic decisions and fostering economic growth. 

While there are many takeaways from the budget, the continued emphasis on public capital expenditure (capex) is one of the highlights. The FM reiterated that private capital expenditure is still weak, and the government will have to do the heavy lifting. Public capex has been increased by a whopping 35% to ₹7.5 lakh crore for 2022-23. Together with central government grants and aids to state governments for capital expenditure, this figure goes up to ₹10.68 lakh crore. As a result of this, private capex may take off sooner than expected. This will catalyse growth in many business ecosystems. The Economic Survey 2021-22 has already showed that there has been an uptick in bank credit growth. 

Micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), which are the backbone of the manufacturing sector, have been more severely impacted by Covid-19. Keeping this in mind, the government has extended the Emergency Credit Guarantee Line by one additional year to March 31, 2023, with additional ₹50,000 crore for hospitality and related sectors that were hit the hardest by the pandemic. Credit guarantee for micro and small enterprises (CGTMSE) has also been revamped. Thus, the ameliorative measures in the budget are extremely targeted, bringing efficiency in the use of taxpayers’ money. 

The government has also struck a fine balance between capital expenditure and fiscal consolidation. Fiscal deficit for FY 22-23 has been projected at 6.4% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and the government remains committed to bring it below 4.5% of the GDP by 2025-26. The glide path is going to be smooth and gradual. The Goods and Services Tax (GST) collection of ₹1.41 lakh crore in January 2022, the highest since the inception of this transformative tax regime, assures us of the strength of economic recovery post-pandemic. Hence, there should not be any negative surprises on the revenue front in the coming financial year. We must bear in mind that the current average tax rate under GST is around 11.6%, which is much below the revenue-neutral rate of 15-15.5% calculated by an expert body at the time of its implementation. Therefore, there is enough room to further increase GST collection, should the government choose to. 

Nowhere is the budget as future oriented as when it talks about urbanisation. We all know that our top six cities are bursting at the seams and all additional expenditure being incurred by their governments is to mostly make them liveable for the existing population.  

The FM rightly said that our tier-2 and tier-3 cities will have to step up to shoulder the responsibility of ongoing urbanisation. Cities and towns can be our future engines of growth only when they are properly planned, inclusive and operate on sustainable principles, not when they present a picture of squalor and apathy.  

The emphasis on new building by-laws, revamped town planning and creating centres of excellence in these areas in leading academic institutions through the grant of ₹250 crore to five such institutions show the commitment of the Modi government in this area. 

It is evident from the budget speech that the PM Gati Shakti is going to be the linchpin around which the government will build a world-class, seamless, multi-modal transport and logistics infrastructure, based on clean energy. One of the reasons why our manufacturers are not globally competitive has to do with high logistics costs and broken domestic supply chains.  

The share of logistics costs right now is around 14% of GDP and the government is committed to bring it down to 8-9%. Gati Shakti, with its focus on seven engines (sectors), will bring down logistics costs, reduce tedious documentation and enable lean inventory management. 

In her speech, the FM said that this budget will set the template for the next 25 years, from India@ 75 to India@100, the 25 years of Amrit Kaal. If India commits itself to follow this template of high public capital expenditure, control on populist measures, stable and predictable tax regime and government policies, and a single-minded focus on reforms, this budget will be remembered as the trailblazer. 

E-Shram Portal: an effort for the welfare of marginalized workers


E-Shram portal is a data base for unorganized sector workers developed by Ministry of labour and employment (MOLE) which is linked with Aadhar. Unorganized workers receive an e-Shram card/id on digital form after registration at the portal. They also can update their profiles through portal or mobile app. This app will help in creating awareness about various welfare programmes and entitlements for the workers in the unorganized sector.

Although registration was recommended by the National Commission for Enterprises in the Unorganized Sector (NCEUS) and made mandatory by Unorganized Workers’ Social Welfare Act 12 years ago, thanks to Narendra Modi Govt’s recent initiatives that the e-Shram portal has been actively to target in the unorganized sector workers. In May 2021 the Supreme Court also issued a ruling for introducing a temporary, comprehensive and universal registration system for informal workers and rotating migrants. In fact, both informal worker and rotating migrants are alternatively known as unorganized sector workers.

As per Periodic Labour Force Survey PLFS (2018-19), nearly 88 per cent of workers are engaged in the unorganized sector while it contributes nearly 52 per cent to our GDP. On the contrary, the organized sector contributes nearly 48 per cent to the GDP while it employs hardly 12 per cent of the entire workforce. This indicates the glaring in equality in the distribution of income. So far it has been impossible to provide any timely relief, forget about providing social security because it is difficult to exactly identify the large number of invisible unorganized sector workers. The NSSO survey which are conducted at different points of time, do not adequately capture their extent and magnitude. E-Sharm Portal is a right step in this direction.

The Benefits for the Registered Workers

The Universal Account Number on e-Shram card will be acceptable all over the country for obtaining social security benefits such as insurance coverage, maternity benefits, pensions, educational benefits, provident fund benefits, housing schemes etc. For the social security benefits the workers need to add the details of their identification like, name, occupation, address, education qualifications, skill, etc. on the portal. Also, through e-Shram card, the migrant workers can take admission for their children in the nearby school, which is one of the major problems, they are facing now. The e-Shram id will be used as their identity card. Further, the beneficiaries will get benefit Rs 2 lakh on death or permanent disability and Rs. 1 lakh for partial disability under the Pradhan Mantri Suraksha Bima Yojana (PMSBY).

The Progress

The e-Shram portal has been made available to states/UTs to register all eligible workers in the unorganized sector including construction workers, migrant workers, gig and platform workers, street vendors, domestic workers, agriculture workers, milkmen, fishermen, truck drivers etc. The eligible workers can register through, over four lakh Common Service Centres (CSCs), which act as access points for delivery of digital services. As on 30th December 2021, the portal has registered around 162 million workers, 67% which are from five states: Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Bihar, Odisha and Jharkhand. These are the major states as far as the number of registrations on E-Shram portal is concerned (see Fig-1).

Figure 1: Share of Major States (in %) in total registration on E-Shram Portall

As shown in Figure-1, these five states account for around seventy per cent of total registration. From which Uttar Pradesh has the highest enrollment, followed by west Bengal, Odisha and Jharkhand.

The portal also collects data of unorganized workers with regards to their occupations. As we know, occupational structure in Indian economy depends upon three different sectors viz., agriculture (primary) industry (secondary) and services (tertiary). In E- shram portal shows that 62 percent of people have enrolled in the primary sector which is higher than the other sectors. Agriculture and construction sectors engage the maximum number of workers in the unorganized sector. The relative distribution of various occupations among the registered workers is shown in Figure 2.

Figure 2: Percentage Distribution of registered workers by major occupations

Apart from agriculture and construction, many more have registered in this portal from different occupations like, domestic and household workers, apparel sector workers, automobile and transport sector workers, electronics and hardware workers, capital goods workers, education, healthcare, retail, tourism and hospitality, food industry. Besides occupation, the portal also collects data on the gender of the workers. Given the number of registration so far, the distribution by gender is presented in figure 3.

Figure 3: Registration of workers by gender (in %)

As shown in figure 3, gender-wise analysis of e-Shram portal registrations shows that more females have registered than the males. For the females it is around 52 per cent while the rest 48 per cent comprise of male workers. Certainly, higher registration of female workers is surprising given their lower participation in labour force. Further the e-Shram portal data suggested that around 94 per cent of workers registered earn an income of Rs. 10,000 or below, per month. Also, the collected data reveals that a large number of workers are young i.e. around 61 per cent of registered workers belong to 18-40 age group. Moreover, the portal also records the migration status. However, the information getting collected is highly inadequate to draw any concrete inference about the status of migrant workers.


The portal is part of digitization process that has assumed a crucial part in prospering the Indian economy. The “make in India” drive has given a gigantic push to digitalization of India, with the help of digital technologies, such as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), remote sensing, big data, block chain and IoT. Thus, the e-Shram portal: the exceptional drive is a much-needed development as it will bring unorganised laborer’s data under one umbrella which will help the Govt. to address their concerns.