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Best and worst thing about the Budget

Last updated on: March 1, 2011 12:05 IST

Best and worst thing about the Budget

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Jaspal Bhatti, Actor-Satirist

Are you happy with the budget?
Budget has a direct connection with worry, not happiness.

Best thing about the budget?
The 10 per cent duty on branded clothes. It's great for those who believe in wearing only branded clothes. The more expensive the clothes, the higher the status symbol.

The worst thing?
The government has forgotten to impose service tax on lobbyists. It has lost the chance to earn hefty revenue.

Does the budget address your fears for India?
The budget has taken care of my concerns for the ageing population. By giving maximum concession to senior citizens, it has ensured that people, instead of worrying about maintaining their youth, will now look for ways to age faster.

If you were Finance Minister, what would you have done?
I would allocate a special budget for education for high-profile scams. Like we have the Right to Education, we could then have the Right to Scam.

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Image: Jaspal Bhatti.

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'Budget has completely ignored the sports industry'

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Vijender Singh, Boxer

Are you happy with the budget?
No

Best thing about the budget?
There's nothing much from my point of view that looks good about the budget.

The worst thing?
The budget has completely ignored the sports industry.

While it could turn out to be a good budget for the common man, as a professional athlete, it is disappointing to see nothing being done for sports.

Does the budget address your fears for India?
If the government and the budget manage to control the increasing prices of everyday commodities, then I think it would be good for the common man.

If you were Finance Minister, what would you have done?
I am happy being a boxer. These bouts are enough for me and I wouldn't want to swap places with the finance minister.

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Image: Vijender Singh.

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'Inflation is the biggest worry'

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Shubha Mudgal, Hindustani Classical Singer

Are you happy with the Budget?
Not happy, not devastated

Best thing about the budget?
Its focus on senior citizens.

The worst thing?
The Budget has, yet again, ignored independent musicians. When will the government start setting aside money for art? I don't want this to be a situation where budding musicians and artists start committing suicide, like farmers, to get their voice heard. Musicians remain an unprotected, vulnerable group.

Does the budget address your fears for India?
Currently, inflation is the biggest worry. And it doesn't seem that much has been done to bring prices down.

If you were Finance Minister, what would you have done?
I am not qualified even to think that I can handle something like this. But because this is an area dear to me, I would have looked at some kind of planning and vision towards making art education mainstream.

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Image: Shubha Mudgal.

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'If I were the FM, I would do everything differently'

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Valmik Thapar
Tiger conservationist, writer, documentary-maker

Are you happy with the budget?
Indifferent.

Best thing about the budget?
I don't see a best thing. Three or four sops of Rs 200 crore each for the Ministry of Environment is totally inadequate.

What is the worst thing about the budget?
The little frills, like raising I-T exemption from Rs 1.6 lakh to Rs 1.8 lakh is icing on the cake in what should be a dynamic system for the future. Twenty per cent of India is forest land, you can't give it 20 seconds.

Does the budget address your fears for India?
There will be a lot of disappointment and some enthusiasm. The bits and pieces neutralise everything.

If you were Finance Minister, what would you have done?
I would do everything differently. For the food security bill, I would have mentioned at least what is the allocation, so that there are not so many questions left unanswered.

Image: Valmik Thapar.

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'You can't run a huge fiscal deficit for a long time'

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Patrick French
Writer & Historian, Author of India: A Portrait

Are you happy with the budget?
Yes.

Best thing about the budget?
Government borrowing is going to be lower than expected. You can't run a huge fiscal deficit for a long time and expect it not to impact on the way the country works. One good thing is the introduction of direct cash transfer to individuals below the poverty line, as an alternative to giving subsidies on kerosene and fertiliser.

The worst thing?
Let's concentrate on the good bits.

Does the budget address your fears for India?
In an economic context, my fear is that India will not grasp how important it is to tackle corruption: it impinges at every level, it hits the poor hardest, and it attracts only the worst kind of foreign investors. The budget addresses this matter - tentatively.

If you were Finance Minister, what would you have done?
Unless the Constitution is amended, I am not eligible to become finance minister.


Image: Patrick French.

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'The budget doesn't address the issue of corruption'

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Prasad Bidappa
Fashion Designer

Are you happy with the budget?
No

Best thing about the budget?
Nothing really. He's weighed and balanced to keep the money coming in.

The worst thing?
Raising the I-T exemption level to Rs 1.8 lakh is senseless. Looking at the average salaries of the middle class, it should have been about Rs 3 lakh. There has been no change in the entertainment tax regime, which now applies to event management even if no tickets are sold. Also, the increase in excise will drive up prices of everything.

Does the budget address your fears for India?
The budget doesn't address the issue of corruption. The finance minister has not created a net to bring back black money.

If you were Finance Minister, what would you have done?
Changed the income tax rules a lot, so as to tax the rich. Also, instituted measures to get back all black money.


Image: Prasad Bidappa.

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