Union Budget: A call for sustainable livelihoods to empower rural economy

The 2024 Interim Budget, like other annual budgets, presents another opportunity for us to advance the well-being of marginalised communities by prioritising initiatives. This can be done by keeping our attention on vulnerable sections in both the urban and rural economies.
In rural economies, there needs to be provision for ensuring sustainable livelihoods for farmers and agricultural workers through investment in rural infrastructure, agriculture and sustainable farming practices. At the same time, there is a need to re-vitalise efforts for the equitable distribution of land, and paramount is the need to empower women farmers and women-led agricultural enterprises.
Further budgetary allocations for promoting climate-resilient agriculture is also welcome. Initiatives like promoting digital literacy, providing access to technology and facilitating e-governance in rural areas should be priority areas for the upcoming interim budget.
At the same time, sustainable infrastructure development is also required in urban centres, with urban employment generation and social welfare. There is a need for budgetary provisions to strengthen and expand social security measures for vulnerable communities, including health insurance, urban employment guarantees for informal workers (such as increased allocation for MGNREGA) and pension schemes, as well as enhancing the quality of education both in cities and villages, with a specific focus on skill development programmes that empower youth for employment and entrepreneurship. Prioritising investments in urban infrastructure, skill development and digital literacy will empower communities.
Fostering economic growth and enhancing the overall quality of life is integral to budget allocation. Ensuring quality access to basic facilities such as safe housing, clean drinking water, education and healthcare schemes for Nomadic Tribes/De-notified Tribes and Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups is a pressing concern.
A strengthened participatory and consultative approach in the budgetary process will ensure an escalated response to realise the aspirations of socially and economically deprived communities.
The author is Executive Director, ActionAid Association. Views expressed in the above piece are personal and solely that of the author. They do not necessarily reflect Firstpost’s views.
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