Mr. Speaker, Sir, at the end of this exercise, I ask
myself what is a budget about? While it is a measure of the
health of the economy, it is also a mirror to the travails and
aspirations of the people. 2000 years ago, Saint Tiruvalluvar
laid down the golden rule for the King's Ministers:
"Iyattralum, eettalum, kattalum, katta
Vakuthalam Vallath Arasu"
(To be able to increase wealth, to lay it up and guard,
And also well to distribute it, marks a royal lord.)
I have made an attempt to raise revenues without putting
any burden upon the poor, to allocate large resources for
agriculture, irrigation, infrastructure and the social sector, to
provide more funds for basic minimum services, to give tax
reliefs to the salaried and the middle classes and to promote
savings and investment. I have strived to serve the seven
objectives that I declared at the outset.
The Common Minimum Programme is absolutely right when it
says that the country's GDP needs to grow at over 7% per year in
the next 10 years in order to abolish poverty and unemployment.
I believe that our economy is on a high growth curve.
Wisdom dictates that we remain on that curve. In order to do so,
we need more reforms, not less. We need more resources, not less.
We need more discipline, not less. And we need more compassion,
not less. If we remain true to the Common Minimum Programme, we
shall overcome our difficulties and take India to the frontline
of the nations of the world. This budget, my maiden effort,
attempts to blend - I hope in the right proportions - courage and
compassion, reform and restraint and growth and social justice.
Mr. Speaker, Sir, with these words, I commend this
budget to this august House.