May 23, 2024

Holistic Pulse

Healthcare is more important

A strong push for India’s journey towards genuine universal healthcare, manufacturing, R&D: Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw

3 min read
In her last budget speech before general elections, finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman has presented an all-encompassing, growth-focused financial roadmap that is aligned with India’s aspiration of achieving ‘developed economy’ status by 2047. The FM has adeptly struck a balance between fostering economic growth and maintaining fiscal prudence in this budget.

To establish itself as a large consumer and a sizeable global manufacturer, India has been investing significantly in infrastructure. In keeping with this strategy, the FM announced an 11% y-o-y increase in the capex target to ₹11.11 lakh crore, representing 3.4% of GDP. This will fund the creation of digital, social and physical infrastructure, such as housing, railways, ports, tourism and logistics.

The pharma and biopharmaceuticals industry in India can become a significant value creator for India. It aspires to reach a size of $120-130 billion by 2030 from $50 billion in 2023. It is great news that GoI recognises this sector as a sunrise industry. Creation of a corpus of ₹1 lakh crore for long-term financing at zero or low interest for sunrise domains is a welcome move in line with PM Narendra Modi’s vision of Jai Anusandhan to boost research and innovation. Higher allocation to R&D will allow India to move up the value chain from being a volume player in generics to an innovation hub for novel therapies. The sector welcomes the launch of the biomanufacturing scheme aimed at biopharmaceuticals, which will support India’s aspiration to achieve a $150 billion bioeconomy by 2025.

Initiatives such as viability gap funding (VGF) for harnessing offshore wind energy, financial aid for biomass segregation, promotion of eco-friendly alternatives such as bioplastics and biofuels, rooftop solarisation, and push towards green transportation with expansion of the EV ecosystem are all important for India’s commitment to reaching its net-zero emission target by 2070. The interim budget is directionally positive for India’s move towards genuine universal healthcare. The proposed cervical cancer vaccination for girls and the extension of Ayushman Bharat to ASHA workers, anganwadi workers and helpers demonstrate a commitment to public health. The consolidation of maternal and child health schemes under a single umbrella is a strategic move that can ensure efficiency in implementation.
With its demonstrated leadership at G20, GoI said it is negotiating bilateral investment treaties with overseas partners to encourage sustained foreign investment that aligns with the spirit of ‘building for India and building for the world’.Economic empowerment of women is important to reduce gender inequality. GoI has been acting steadily on its commitment to raise women’s workforce participation as is evident from the 28% increase in female enrolment in higher education, including 43% in STEM courses. Focused efforts on entrepreneurship, notably the MUDRA Yojana, have resulted in greatly supporting women entrepreneurs and achieving the goal of ‘improving people’s capability and empowering them’.The FM has taken a pragmatic approach in presenting a budget that prioritises stability and consistency over populism. Her commitment to fiscal prudence while investing in uplift of the poor, welfare of farmers, empowerment of women and skilling of youth is praiseworthy. The budget’s focus on research and innovation, biomanufacturing, green technologies, infrastructure development and technology-driven digital transformation is in line with the PM’s commitment to ‘Sabka saath, sabka vikas’.Initiatives outlined in this budget will contribute positively to fostering a business-friendly environment and spur India’s transition to an advanced manufacturing and knowledge-led economy.


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