The union budget was expected to provide a stimulus for education and employment as many students are lagging behind while a large population of youth is struggling to find jobs due to the pandemic and lockdown. However, instead of providing them with some relief, the government continues its march towards full-scale privatization, under the garb of divestment. This blatant shift from the very idea of a welfare state is in the DNA of this budget.

Here are some observations about the education sector and employment in the Union Budget 2021-22:

  • The annual outlay for the Ministry of Education has marked a sharp decline from Rs. 99,331 crore in the last year’s budget to Rs. 93,225 cr (from 3.26% to 2.68% of overall expenditure), which is appalling at a time when we need to exponentially increase our spending to realize the potential of a millennial nation. this is highly disappointing, to say the least.
  • National Digital Education Architecture has been set up, which was the need of the hour. But there is no clarity on the roadmap, or more importantly, the capital allotted or the time frame.
  • There’s hardly any increase in scholarships and fellowships, which signals the continuing trend of deliberate mechanisms to stifle accessibility.
  • National Apprentice Training has been allotted a fund of Rs 3,000 crore. But with unemployment rates touching the roofs, the previously introduced Skill India initiative didn’t find any mention in the finance ministry’s speech. It’s an indication of the government’s overall scheme of things, where initiatives are largely geared towards publicity and less towards achieving results.
  • In line with the thrust towards entrepreneurship, the Start-up fund was a very welcome initiative and filled aspirations of budding businesses. This budget could have added more thrust.
  • The tax exemption for the first financial year appears to be a conducive step.