A group of students pursuing various courses in social sciences settle down on the steps of a shop sipping on ‘cutting chai’ outside their present home, the Tata Institute of Social Sciences. Coming from diverse places such as Kanpur, Ranchi, Jaipur, Patna, Mumbai and Pune, the students bring in their personal life experiences and their respective academic disciplines to understand the impact of several policy announcements.
“I don’t think this budget is any different from all the previous budgets over decades now. I don’t see it as a turnaround either. The defence budget continues to be higher than all other areas such as health and education put together, in the name of national security. We have a certain kind of society and we are catering to their growth. But nothing’s new about that,” says Shantanu Nevrekar, a development studies student. Syed Mazahir, a student of public health, adds the new announcements need to be examined carefully. “There has been no allocation as per the Draft National Health Policy recommendations so I am not sure how this dialysis programme or 3,000 medical stores would work,” he says, adding the insurance announcement too was open to critical evaluation and was not a real win-win for poor people.