The Indian budget for the fiscal year 2018-19 has come out, and it has majorly focused on rural and infrastructure development. With policies announced and measures laid out for the advancement of farmers and businesses alike, what has been done for the younger demographic of India – The 20 somethings, the millennials, the future of the nation?
With the promise of energizing youth for greater economic development, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has set out a slew of reforms that is targeted at direct benefits to the youth of the nation
1. Promoting the need for better research facilities and its infrastructural development, the government will launch the Prime Minister’s Research Fellows (PMRF) Scheme in 2018, under which 1,000 of the best B.Tech students each year from premier institutions would be identified and provided with facilities to do Ph.D. in IITs and IISc. Additionally, the government also expects those bright young fellows would voluntarily commit few hours every week for teaching in higher educational institutions. Those students who get selected will be entitled to Rs 75, 000 per month as a fellowship for five years. The Prime Minister Research Fellowship (PMRF) scheme has been allocated a sum of Rs 1,800 crore. This scheme will hugely push the way for decreasing the brain-drain from the country.
2. A new initiative known as ‘Revitalising of Infrastructure and Systems in Education’ (RISE) will be launched in the country with a total investment of Rs 1 lakh crore in the next four years. It will focus on developing existing educational infrastructure and make way for improving the overall education sector in India. Additionally, by 2022, every block with more than 50% of ST population and at least 20,000 tribal people will have an ‘Ekalavya’ school. This will pave the way for better inclusiveness of all student demographics to contribute to the development of the nation.
3. With the emphasis on “shift from blackboards to digital boards”, the government is actively seeking to leverage on information technology to effectively improve “education delivery”. The launch of online education platform SWAYAM is one of the major initiatives to follow the lines of this plan. It will comprise of at least 350 online courses which will enable students to virtually attend the courses taught by the best faculty as well as access high-quality reading resources, participate in discussion forums, take tests and earn academic grades. Access to this platform will be further expanded by linking it to education-dedicated Direct to Home (DTH) channels. Apart from this, the government has also proposed the creation of an innovation fund for Secondary Education to encourage local innovation for ensuring universal access, gender parity and quality improvement of education and will include ICT (Information and Technology Communications) enabled learning transformation.
4. The finance minister has also promised to undertake reforms in the UGC. Institutions offering quality education will be granted more administrative and academic autonomy, something that will be defined on the basis of accreditation and ranking. Education is also likely to become more outcome-based as the government proposes to introduce a revised framework for outcome-based accreditation and credit-based programmes. This has the potential to revolutionize the education sector as institutions will now have to develop and keep their standards high.
5. To leverage India’s “huge demographic advantage” and maximize the employability potential of the youth, the government has announced a Rs 4,000 crore programme called the Skill Acquisition and Knowledge Awareness for Livelihood Promotion Programme (SANKALP), aimed at providing market-relevant training to 3.5 crore youth across the country. For this, ‘The Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Kendras’ will be extended from currently 60 districts to 600 districts. Moreover, 100 India International Skill Centres will be established across the country to offer advanced training in various fields and also in foreign languages. Besides this, the next phase of Skill Strengthening For Industrial Value Enhancement (STRIVE) will be launched at a cost of Rs 2,200 crore. STRIVE will focus to improve the quality and the market relevance of vocational training provided in ITIs and strengthen the apprenticeship programme through industry-cluster approach. Additionally, National Apprenticeship Scheme will be launched with stipend support with the government providing basic training to 50 lakh youth by 2020.
While all of this sounds promising for the youth, the government has to actually deliver results on the lines of the proposed reforms. But, as long as the vision lasts, the budget has impressive agendas with actionable plans, and if everything goes right, this budget will have a long-lasting positive impact on the youth of the nation.
For those who want to know more about the budget, Here’s a book- ‘The Budget 2018-2019‘, published by Taxmann, that will be out for sale soon. You can order it right now on Amazon!
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