The Union Budget of India is a reflection of the state of the nation’s economy and its future prospects. It is a document that shapes the country’s fiscal policy for the near future. Despite this, there is an increasing lack of interest among the youth in the Union budget of India.
This series interviews students and young working professionals and seeks to understand the reasons for the lack of interest among today's youth in budget announcements as well as their expectations from it.
Arjun Mehra tells MintGenie in an interview about how he believes that many youngsters feel that the budget discussions are too ‘complex’ and the technical jargon results in losing touch with the realities of the situation.
He is a CA Finalist and has cleared CFA Level 1 with a 90+ percentile and is a B.Com (Hons) graduate from Sri Venkateswara College, Delhi University. Currently, he is working as a Staff Accountant in the M&A Tax Department.
Do you believe there is a lack of awareness and participation among the younger generation regarding the Union budget and its discussions? What could be the possible reasons behind that?
It is true that the youth, especially those presently unemployed and pursuing higher studies, are reluctant to engage in discussions surrounding the Union Budget. Although there has been a surge in the younger generation’s involvement in recent years, it’s far from what could be even remotely considered satisfactory. I believe that this is due to the disconnect that the youth has with the relevance of their engagement in the formulation of the Budget.
Most of us are implicit of the opinion that neither the discussions around the Budget directly impact one’s personal or professional life nor is it drafting under one’s control. Most of us are also of the opinion that the Budget is solely about ‘Tax’ matters which are reserved to be interpreted by tax professionals and are beyond the understanding of a non-professional.
Many youngsters feel that the discussions are too ‘complex’ and the technical jargon results in losing touch with the realities of the situation, especially if the conversations focus on ‘budgetary expectations’ than the change required by the common man. This is further complemented by the inherent political fiasco surrounding the Budget, which leads the discussions away from the relevant subject to dramatized political propaganda and televised debates sparred with vendetta blame games.
How do the decisions undertaken in the Union Budget affect the youth and GenZ? Why is it important for them to actively engage and be a part of it?
It is pertinent to understand that the Union Budget is way more than just an announcement of the tax slab rates. The Budget holds the government accountable by providing the centralized allocation of the government’s revenue collected from the taxpayers. It also emphasizes the intent of the government to give a boost to certain sectors by means of increased budgetary allocations, i.e. PLI schemes, and subsidies. This is extremely relevant for the youth while deciding the industry they would desire to venture into and make a career in.
The discussions surrounding the Budget also enhance awareness in respect of existing problems faced by the economy and the sectors which, in the experts’ opinion, will spearhead India’s growth. This has been the case with the strong push given to start-ups and the digital economy. Apart from providing the slab rates, it amends the entire tax regime which may directly impact the taxpayer, like the introduction of the long-awaited VDA tax regime in last year’s Budget.
Additionally, GenZ is more prone to engaging in evolving technologies and complex financial instruments, like crypto assets, which may be disapproved by existing policymakers due to a lack of understanding. It, thus, becomes important for them to voice their opinion and take an active part in the Budget formulation.
If the concerns of the youth aren’t raised, the government may be too conservative in allowing the youngsters to venture into evolving spaces. This generation will steer the economy forward to new heights, but for that, it must sit in the driver’s seat and put forward its demands.
What are the expectations of today's youth from the government and its budgetary decisions? What do they look forward to?
Apart from the continued support of the government for growth sectors, the expectations of today’s youth can be trifurcated into tax incentives, protection against recession and job losses, and clarity in respect of crypto transactions.
Firstly, there is a demand to increase the tax basic exemption limit along with standard deductions for salary and specified 80C investments, in light of the rising inflation and deterioration of purchasing power of the rupee. This is followed by a need to rationalize the capital gain tax regime by taxing short-term and long-term gains in the stock market at comparable rates. There is a long-standing demand to revise the overall slab rates as well as to provide relief to the taxpayer in light of the looming recession.
Talking of recession, there is also a need to focus the allocations to growth and employment-generating sectors in order to protect the workforce against the increasing lay-offs in the private sector. There may be a need to allocate a higher proportion to government schemes generating employment. There is a need to increase capex in order to spur economic activity and protect the economy against the global downturn while maintaining the real growth of output.
Finally, there is a requirement to provide a clear stance of the government in respect of cryptocurrency transactions, since the regulatory uncertainty acts as fuel to fire to an already volatile crypto atmosphere. With the exponential growth of public interest in this sector and the youth obtaining expertise to venture into the industry on a full-time income-generating basis, it is about time for the government to provide clarity in respect of the regulatory environment of the same.