The Union Budget 2021–22 of the Indian government was presented against a backdrop of the year that was probably the strangest, if not the most difficult, in our recent history.
The budget tried to provide a ray of hope: to an economy, that witnessed a negative growth rate during the last economic year(worst on the record) and to the people, that were left devastated by the loss of their livelihood and their loved ones.
Even though there were no lives that were not impacted by the COVID-19, Women, in particular, once again shared the major burden of the impact. According to a recent working paper by the Centre for Science and Environment, a Delhi-based non-profit organisation, as opposed to 60 per cent men and of the 6.7 million women displaced from the labour force by November 2020, 2.3 million were rural women while 4.4 million were urban. only 16 per cent of women employed in December 2019 were able to keep their jobs during and after the lockdown as opposed to 60 per cent men and of the 6.7 million women displaced from the labour force by November 2020, 2.3 million were rural women while 4.4 million were urban.
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman mentioned in her budget speech that the proposals in this budget will strengthen the Sankalp of Women Empowerment among others. Some of the proposals that directly concern women are:
- Women will be allowed to work in all categories and also in the night-shifts with adequate protection(under the new Labour Code). The code will also ensure the minimum wages for the women in the labour force.
- Harping on the theme of ‘Caring Society’, the Finance Minister said that Rs 35,600 crore has been allocated for nutrition-related programs. Rs 28,600 crore proposed for programs that are specific to women.
- The government proposed to provide Rs 1,000 crore for the welfare of tea workers especially women and their children in Assam and West Bengal. A special scheme will be devised for the same.
- A scheme of Mega Investment Textiles Parks (MITRA) will be launched in addition to the PLI scheme. This will create a world-class infrastructure with plug and play facilities to enable create global champions in exports. 7 Textile Parks will be established over 3 years. This will provide a boost to the industry which provides huge employment to women and is also dominated by women entrepreneurs.
For women entrepreneurs:
- Under the scheme of Stand Up India for SCs, STs, and women, the margin money requirement has now been reduced from 25% to 15%.
- A further measure that directly benefits Startups and Innovators, I propose to incentivize the incorporation of One Person Companies (OPCs) by allowing OPCs to grow without any restrictions on paid-up capital and turnover, allowing their conversion into any other type of company at any time.
- The eligibility for claiming tax holiday for start-ups has now been extended by one more year — till 31st March 2022.
- Further, to incentivise funding of the start-ups, the capital gains exemption for investment in start-ups has now been extended by one more year — till 31st March 2022.
- Rationalisation of exemption on import of duty-free items as an incentive to exporters of garments, leather, and handicraft items. Almost all these items are made domestically by our MSMEs, which provides huge livelihood opportunities to women.
We could hope that proposals in this budget will pave the pathway for reducing gender gaps and inequality in our society along with providing more opportunities for women, to not only grow but lead.
In strange and uncertain times such as those, we are living in, sometimes a reasonable person might despair. But hope is unreasonable and love is greater even than this. May we trust the inexpressible benevolence of the creative impulse: Robert Fripp
Originally published at https://shaktipreneurs.org.