We are only days away from the union budget 2020 and in CNBC-TV18's series Countdown to the Budget, Latha Venkatesh tries to get a hang of what the budget can do for agriculture and for rural India.
Every union finance minister spends a disproportionate part of the speech to agriculture and rural India. Secondly, it is not just farmers but across the breadth of the economy industrialists and economists are asking for a rural stimulus as there is a complete collapse of rural demand.
To analyse what the union budget 2020 can do, Latha Venkatesh spoke to Ashok Gulati, former chairman of Agriculture Prices Commission and agriculture economist; Professor Himanshu of JNU and Harish Damodaran of The Indian Express.
Gulati said, "The problem we are facing in agriculture and rural development is that too much money is going in terms of subsidies, in terms of more of unproductive subsidies or even distorting subsidies like fertilizer subsidy or MGNREGA."
Himanshu said, "There are already existing ways of reviving rural demand. One way is to increase government spending on rural development schemes. I think NREGS is again something which is an old warhorse but something which has been diluted to a large extent during the tenure of this government. Today the wages of the NREGS are almost half the market wages. So, there is definitely a need to raise the NREGS wages to at least market wages."