Doles over investment?
This refers to the article, “Revving up the rural economy” by Anuj Agarwal and Prachi Priya (FE, February 23). In his Budget speech, finance minister Arun Jaitley signalled acche din for the rural economy by saying, “The Government will continue to work closely with the farmers and the people in the rural areas to improve their life and environment. This is a non-negotiable agenda for our Government. The total allocation for the rural, agriculture and allied sectors in 2017-18 is Rs. 1,87,223 crores, which is 24% higher than the previous year.” He backed his words with increased allocations under the Fasal Bima Yojana, computerisation and integration of Primary Agriculture Credit Societies, expansion of the coverage of National Agriculture Market (e-NAM) with enhanced agricultural credit target and modernisation of milk processing units to raise the productivity of primary sector. Further, he announced the launch of Mission Antyodaya for poverty alleviation, availability of electricity, clean drinking water and sanitation facilities and stepping up of allocations under the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana and Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana to improve rural infrastructure. However, by allocating most of the funds to resource-guzzling initiatives like subsidies and MGNREGA, the government seems to have missed yet another opportunity to reverse the UPA legacy of doling out freebies over productivity-boosting investments. Also, its silence on the selection of base year to judge the progress of its reforms and calculation of augmented farm earnings raises concerns over the efficacy of its policies in making farming sustainable, profitable and productive. It is, therefore, not surprising that the “living monument of failures” of the UPA government regained its glory as the ‘nation’s pride’ and also succeeded in garnering the highest ever budgetary allocation of R48,000 crore!
Shreyans Jain, Delhi
Stop needless C-sec deliveries
Women and child development minister Maneka Gandhi has done the nation a service by raising the issue of the rise in Caesarian births. Few would disagree that it is best if women give birth to babies the natural way. At the same time, nobody would be against the Caesarian section option when it becomes necessary due to medical complications involving mother, baby, or both. As a life-saver, C-section is here to stay. However, it is a sad fact that hospitals go in for caesarian section without sufficient medical justification with the sole motive of making more money. They often do this exploiting the tendency to opt for a surgery ‘to play safe’. This is tantamount to commercialisation of medical advances breaching all ethics. The central government’s move to make it mandatory for hospitals to make public the data on normal deliveries and C-section births comes a day not so soon. It is sure to go a long way towards dissuading and deterring them from seeing C-section as the first option. The greed of doctors and hospitals cannot be allowed to result in an increase in births by Caesarian. Fortunately, only a small minority of expectant mothers in our country are ‘too posh to push’.
G David Milton, Maruthancode (TN)