The Dialogue along with the Takshashila Institution organised a conference to analyse state budgets at the Gokhale Institute of Politics and Economics, Pune, on March 10.
Professor Hari introduced the session to students by outlining the objectives of the day. He underscored the need for the research community to actively contribute towards India’s mainstream policy discourse.
Ranjeet Rane, Digital Lead of The Dialogue then gave the opening remarks. He introduced The Dialogue to the audience and laid the ground for the discussion that followed.
“The Dialogue is taking policy to the people”, remarked Rane, inviting participants to associate themselves with the newly emerging policy portal. He highlighted the gaps present in today’s governance discourse in the media. Rane emphasised on the need to drive a balanced and constructive dialogue on relevant issues in India.
Founding Editor Kazim Rizvi gave the keynote address, inviting researchers and students from GIPE to contribute actively towards mainstream policy discourse in the country.
He emphasised on the need of analysing state budgets as it is one of the most important policy document that needs a greater level of discourse than what is currently being pursued in the media. “State budgets impact the lives of people as much as the union budget and has a direct bearing on many items covered under the state list of the Constitution,”said Rizvi.
He also underlined the objectives of The Dialogue, to arm the people with the right information so that they not only understand how governance works, but can also participate as good Samaritans towards nation building. “In a world dictated by post-truths, it is extremely critical that evidence and data based research finds its way to the common man, empowering him with right tools. And that is why, a topic like state budgets was critical to be understood in the context of impactful policy analysis,” added Rizvi. He ended the remarks by announcing that the time has come when intellectual research and analyses is communicated in a simple language to the people – when we move away from discussing policies and governance within the corridors of our own research network and involve the non-research community as stakeholders in our discussions.
Pranay Kothastane, Geopolitics Head with Takshashila Institution took over and conducted a session where he explained the nuances and key aspects of analysing state budgets to understand its impact on people. He outlined the methodologies and best practices to conduct the analysis and encouraged the participants to write and publish.
Kothasthane explained the policy architecture of the entire budgeting process. He quizzed the participants with his unique and direct approach on articulating concepts and was able to engage the students in a constructive dialogue.
The budget, which is an estimation of a state’s revenue and expenditure, accounts for three years of estimates. The Annual Financial Statement and the budget speech are the two documents that are critical to analyse and understand yearly budget of any particular state. “In India, approximately twenty-five percent of the money from the center’s budget is allocated to the states. As the economy grows and people’s purchasing power increases, this figure is expected to rise to close to forty percent in the coming years,” said Kothasthane.
He concluded his talk with a call to action, inviting students to publish articles starting with a pre-budget piece from previous years figures. As the Maharashtra budget will be released on March 18th, the event happened just in time to encourage students to analyse the upcoming state budget.
The event was attended political sciences and economics students, Takshashila alumni, bureaucrats, corporates and academia.