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'The budget affects everybody'

Ever since he became aware of what the 'budget' was all about, Arjun Dasgupta has been keenly following the budget presentations.

"I feel the budget affects everybody, from ordinary people to the industry," says the 20-year-old student.

This year, he is eagerly waiting to listen to the finance minister's budget presentation because "it will tell us the direction in which the Congress-led government is going in."

He wants the budget to be 'more reformist' and not hampered by the presence of the Communists in the government. "That is my main concern. It is going to be difficult to present a reform-oriented budget because political considerations will affect the finance minister's decisions. However, he has to maintain a balance."

He also wants the finance minister to give more stress on the rural sector but he is against populist measures like free power. "Just to win votes, they should not resort to gimmicks like offering free power, as Jayalalithaa has done here."

Arjun is in favour of liberalisation and globalisation, because "we can't progress otherwise. "A classic example is the way Russian communism messed up the Russian economy up. On the other hand, China is progressing rapidly because they reformed the Chinese economy."

In the post liberalisation era, the one finance minister who has impressed Arjun the most is Dr Manmohan Singh - though he was but a child when Manmohan Singh was the finance minister. "He started the whole reform process, and the others are just continuing it."

P Chidambaram as the finance minister? "Okay, I guess! I will form my opinion depending on this budget."

If he were the finance minister, Arjun's emphasis would be on the industrial sector and the farming sector. "I will not ignore a particular sector and concentrate on some others like the NDA did."

-- Shobha Warrier

Photograph: Sreeram Selvaraj

Budget 2004-05: Complete Coverage

Also see: Cars that'll make James Bond drool!

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