Union Minister of Finance Nirmala Sitharaman tabled Union Budget 2023-24 at 11 am in Parliament on February 1, 2023. Among the many announcements she made, one related to the setting up of a National Digital Library for children and adolescents, thus pushing forth the need for financial literacy to the forefront.
To inculcate financial literacy among the young, financial sector regulators and organisations will be urged to provide age-appropriate reading materials, Sitharaman said.
The effort is in part to make up for the “pandemic-time learning loss”, and to encourage a culture of reading among children, she said in her Budget Speech, adding that the National Digital Library for children and adolescents will facilitate “availability of quality books across geographies, languages, genres and levels, and device agnostic accessibility.”
Sitharaman said in her speech that the respective state governments will be encouraged to set up physical libraries “at the panchayat and ward levels and provide infrastructure for accessing the National Digital Library resources.”
Additionally, the “National Book Trust, Children’s Book Trust and other sources will be encouraged to provide and replenish non-curricular titles in regional languages and English to these physical libraries,” she said.
To this end, collaboration with non-governmental organisation (NGOs) that work in financial literacy will be a part of this initiative, it was announced.
Incidentally, the Economic Survey 2022-2023 released on January 31, 2023 had pointed out that there was scope for financial literacy in the country and that government initiatives were also geared towards enhancing financial literacy.
Rohit Gajbhiye, CEO, Edu-Fintech Start-Up Financepeer said: “With a strong focus on practical skill development and digital education, Union Budget 2023 has addressed the right issues for the education sector.”
Earlier in 2021, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) had reportedly undertaken a financial literacy project meant for children and adolescents in a bid to share insights with the central bank’s functions and other banking concepts.
Edul Patel, CEO and co-founder of Mudrex explained that this project was hindered in the wake of Covid-19 pandemic.
“Therefore, to achieve the vision of imparting core financial literacy to all at a young age, the Union Bill 2023 proposed the active involvement of regulators in providing study and research materials to all,” he says.
This is being seen as a major development for India as financial literacy has never been part of the country’s school curriculum.
Says Kumar Binit, CEO and co-founder, FinMapp: “Financial literacy rate in India is less than 20 per cent. This is not only stressful and poses challenges, but it has also slowed down the economic growth of the country. It will ensure that the right books and the right knowledge reach the youth, paving the way towards financial maturity and growth.”
Neeti Sharma, co-founder and president, TeamLease Edtech, says: “When the larger population of India understands savings, taxation and investments, it will help in the GDP growth, as well.”
As financial literacy is considered the foundation of a sound financial future, Dharmil Bavishi, co-founder at Bullspree, a financial literacy and stock market investing app feels that “the Union Budget has taken a much-needed step in the process of achieving equitable distribution of wealth.”
The more individuals understand money and the investment instruments to manage and grow their incomes, the better equipped they will be to take informed decisions and secure their financial future, Bavishi adds.
Meanwhile, the Budget Speech also highlighted that a national financial information registry will be set up, which will “serve as the central repository of financial and ancillary information, which will facilitate efficient flow of credit, promote financial inclusion, and foster financial stability.”
In order to build capacity of “functionaries and professionals in the securities market, the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) will also be empowered to develop, regulate, maintain and enforce norms and standards for education in the National Institute of Securities Markets (NISM) and to recognise award of degrees, diplomas and certificates.