Further development of social sector infrastructure will be the key to achieving the goal of more equitable economic growth in the country, the Economic Survey 2022-23 suggested on Tuesday.
As India marches ahead, the ground lost as regards social sector improvements due to the pandemic has largely been recouped, powered by prompt policy making and efficient implementation interwoven with technology, the survey stated. Going forward with the vision of ‘Minimum Government, Maximum Governance’, further developments will hold the key to attaining more equitable economic growth, it suggested.
As India marches ahead, the ground lost as regards social sector improvements due to the pandemic, has largely been recouped, powered by prompt policy making and efficient implementation interwoven with technology, the survey, which was tabled in Parliament, said. Evident ones include stepping up learning outcomes through digital and teaching interventions in schools, enhancing the role of community workers in healthcare, pushing SHGs (self-help groups) through better product design and upscaling enterprises.
Further, channelising women’s economic potential through ecosystem services such as affordable market alternatives for care work, safe transportation and lodging, and long-term counselling support, can help capitalise the gender dividend for the country’s future economic and social development.
The social sector expenditure outlay of the Centre and State Governments has increased steadily to stand at Rs 21.3 lakh crore in FY23 (BE), with its share in total General Government expenditure standing at 26.6 per cent. Today, India is moving towards the attainment of the UN SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals). While doing so, it suggested that it is cognizant of the fact that for equitable development, a country as vast and diverse as India requires the implementation of broad-based inclusive social policies, supported by adequate and commensurate financial resources.
Thus, the character and contour of such an approach to development present a unique set of challenges which is consistently being addressed in the form of mindful reforms, it pointed out.
Ensuring that the intended outcomes of social sector development schemes reach the intended, involvement of the grassroots level of governance is imperative and is being actively pursued. Technology has been a great enabler in ensuring the last-mile connectivity of government schemes to the targeted citizens. It has revolutionised the delivery of services while ensuring transparency and accountability. It needs to be harnessed further to help the government attain the lofty SDGs on the social front.
It noted that in the Amrit Kaal, the lives of two-thirds of the Indian populace residing in rural India look remarkably better than a few years back, aided by the policy focus on basic amenities and efficient programme implementation. Outcome-oriented statistics concerning the quality of rural lives establish tangible progress in access to electricity, the presence of improved drinking water sources, coverage under health insurance schemes, women empowerment, etc. The emphasis on digital land records through SVAMITVA (Survey of Villages and Mapping with Improvised Technology in Village Areas) is structural reform in rural land management and individual economic empowerment, it also noted.
On the human capital formation front, the twin pillars of education and health are being strengthened from the core. Within the progressive framework of the National Education Policy (NEP), the improvement in basic facilities in schools and the rising availability of teachers is expected to yield dividends which will enrich the nation’s growth and development prospects in the decades to come.
The Government has also strengthened the health infrastructure and prepared itself to address present and future needs. Ensuring the provision of quality health facilities to citizens, the share of government health expenditure in total health expenditure has increased from 28.6 per cent in FY14 to 40.6 per cent in FY19, with a concomitant decline in out-of-pocket expenditure as a percentage of total health expenditure from 64.2 per cent in FY14 to 48.2 per cent in FY19.
Augmenting the rural public healthcare system, the number of Sub-centres, Primary Health Centres (PHCs), and Community Health Centres (CHCs) have improved substantially, along with a rise in doctors, nurses, and other medical personnel in the past eight years. Consequently, a host of health-related indicators such as institutional births, immunisation and, coverage of health insurance, have witnessed an uptrend, as borne out by National Family Health Survey (NFHS) data.
The progress of the path-breaking Ayushman Bharat programme, with nearly 22 crore beneficiaries, is being further tech-enabled through digital health IDs ‘ABHA’ and telemedicine through e-Sanjeevani, it noted.