Booster Dose to Privatisation *** Premium Content for Registered Users..*** 2020-21 HAS BEEN one long year of budgets. The Covid-19 pandemic threw to winds the estimates, priorities and the very framework of the budget presented a year ago on 01 February 2020. We witnessed continuous attempts at fiscal corrections to cope with the enormity of the Covid-19 dislocations. Finance Minister Nirmala Sithara- man presented Atmanirbhar Bharat packages 1.0, 2.0 and 3.0 in quick succession. Reserve Bank Governor also announced a few monetary measures. These together were estimated to cost Rs 27.1 lakh crore that amounted to over 13 per cent of the GDP. The Finance Minister in presenting the budget for 2021-22 explained that the Atmanirbhar packages was designed to accelerate the pace of structural reforms, re- define MSMEs, commercialise the mineral sector, reform agriculture and labour, move towards privatisation and the One Nation One Ration Card, ensure faceless income tax assessment, direct benefit transfer of reliefs to beneficiaries and financial inclusion. The FM built her budget proposals on six pillars: health and well-being; physical and financial capital and infrastructure; inclusive development for aspirational India; reinvigorating human capital; innovation and R&D and minimum government and maximum governance. BIG BOOST TO HEALTH AND WELL-BEING The budget outlay for health and well-being was pro- posed as Rs 223,846 crore, an increase of 137 per cent over the Rs 94,452 crore in the budget estimate. This included Rs 35,000 crore for the Covid-19 vaccine. The proposal included health systems, nutrition, universal coverage of water supply, Swachch Bharat and clean air. This re- grouping makes the allocation looks so impressive! The second pillar on capital and infrastructure covered a vast range of manufacturing and infrastructure develop- ment plans. The production-linked incentive scheme, an important part of the Atmanirbhar Bharat, has been announced for 13 sectors with a commitment of Rs 1.97 lakh crore spread over five years. This is a necessary focus in the context of private industries resorting to cheaper imports of a variety of products for which the country has capabilities. A leading manufacturer of fasteners pointed to a Korean car producer importing fasteners on considerations of supplies from his chosen Korean vendor and at a marginally cheaper cost. We have also witnessed resort to imports of a large variety of components and semi-assem- blies from China switching from indigenous suppliers. Union Budget 2021 Highlights c PDF version of Cover story exclusive to registered users..