India: ‘Anti-people’ budget met with protests

Representatives of Indian trade unions and left-wing parties held placards reading: “Anti-Farmers Union Budget”; “This is not a budget, this is treachery”, “Anti-Youth Budget”; and “Anti-Woman Budget”.

Protesters gathered in New Delhi, India, to protest against the 2018 national budget released by the right-wing Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP) government, labelling it “anti-people” and “anti-labour”.

Representatives of Indian trade unions and left-wing parties held placards reading: “Anti-Farmers Union Budget”; “This is not a budget, this is treachery”, “Anti-Youth Budget”; and “Anti-Woman Budget”.

Following in US President Donald Trump's footsteps, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has also given major tax concessions to corporations. The budget has cut the corporate tax rate from 30% to 25% for companies with an annual turnover of US$2.5 billion.

The Communist Party of India (Marxist) said: “The budget does not seek to mobilise revenues by increasing direct taxes on the rich, in spite of the fact that the top 1% of the Indian population garnered 73% of the additional wealth generated in 2017.

“On the contrary, governmental expenditures increasingly rely on indirect taxes which are a burden on the common people. In fact, the proportion of the direct taxes in gross central taxes is budgeted to come down from 51.6% to 50.6%.”

The Socialist Unity Centre of India (SUCI) also launched protests against the increased incentives for foreign investors through the Foreign Direct Investment scheme. 

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, from the All India Trinamool Congress, said: “It is a directionless budget. It is anti-people...

“What will people eat? People are already under the burden of demonetization and GST [the indirect, anti-poor Goods and Services Tax].

“There is nothing on rural employment or employment. There is no roadmap for education. Nothing is there for farmers. It is a depressing budget.”

Critics say the budget failed to mention the issues deeply affecting the social fabric of the country, such as the surge in hate crimes against minorities and the poor, and a plummeting rate of employment after Modi’s administration came to power. 

[Abridged from TeleSUR English.]

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