by March 2, 2002 0 comments

It is that time of the year when nothing seems to happen. Everyone waits for the annual ritual of the budget to be over, before normal life can resume.

It is not as if this is something new. Every year you know that there will be a budget. Every year at the same date and time the FM will make his speech. You know that some taxes and duties will go up and some others down. Yet all of us wait, as if in suspended
animation, for life to restart after the ritual.

There is, of course, the question of why the whole budget process should be so secretive. But there are some changes happening on that front, so I will leave it alone. My issue is with this whole budget expectations thing.

It is all the more funny if you consider that every year, starting from Dr Manmohan Singh’s times, we have had good, industry-friendly budgets. Actually, each FM has been trying to outdo his predecessors, and even himself, with every new budget.

Still, ‘spokespersons’ start making a beeline for the nearest reporter or TV studio to give their list of demands from the budget. It is not as if the FM is sitting in front of the TV, waiting for inputs to make his budgets. There is a well-defined process for the Finance Ministry to get inputs from the industry, and industry representatives are also invited to make presentations to the FM and
his team.

But that process does not have scope for a play before the masses. Hence this rush to the media with views, demands and the lot. It’d still be a useful exercise, if they spoke about what they themselves were doing to improve things, how they are preparing to conquer new markets. How new products and services were being planned.

But no. Every person has more or less one thing to say. If only this budget would give us the big breaks, we will do well. This seems to be the basic refrain. Everyone is waiting for the FM to give them sops so that they can do better. Nobody, it seems, wants to take their destiny in their own hands, at least not in public fora. Why can’t they say some thing like–This is what we have achieved so far. Give us this more and we will achieve this, this and this.

What all of them seem to forget is that no one has become great by waiting for sops to fall on their laps. They seem to forget that no one has become a saint in his sleep. And those who have indeed done great things have done so ‘by toiling away in the night when all but they were asleep’. Take the often-cited example of the software industry. In all probability, the Indian software industry is what it is today because it ‘toiled away’ while everyone else was waiting for sops.

Isn’t it time that the rest of our industries also learned a few lessons from our software sector, particularly at budget time?

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