FM Sitharaman bats for health science and oceans

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Unlike the pre-pandemic Union Budget presented by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in February 2020 where she allocated Rs 8,000 crore for an ambitious Quantum Computing Mission, this year’s budget — her third — did not mention quantum computing at all.

The document outlining the implementation status of the previous Budget announcements had a brief and cryptic comment against the entry on National Mission on Quantum Technologies and Applications. “Consultations with the stakeholders have been done and further action in the matter is under process,” it said.

And that is not to say that science wasn’t in focus this year. Here are a few key highlights:

  • Sitharaman provided Sitaraman and 20% increase in the budget allocation for the Ministry of Science and Technology to Rs 14,793 Road which has three departments under it — the Department of Science and Technology (DST), Department of Biotechnology (DBT) and the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research (DSIR). The  Ministry of Earth Sciences has been allocated Rs 1,897 crores separately
  • When dispensing largesse, she also allocated Rs 50,000 cross over the next five years for setting up a National Research Foundation. This organisation is expected to act as a number a body which will help fund research across a range of subjects and disciplines
  • The Finance Minister also announced the launch of a Deep Ocean Mission with a budget outlay of Rs 4,000 crore over five years. The portions of exploration and projects for the conservation of dip the biodiversity will be the key focus areas for this newly minted mission
  • And of course, all the above plans and investments do not include the substantial hike of 137% in allocation for the health and well-being budget from Rs 94,452 crores to nearly Rs 2,23,846 crore.
  • Minister launched a new scheme, the PM Aatma Nirbhar Swasth Bharat Yojana. This centrally sponsored scheme will get over Rs 64,180 crore over the next few years.

As they say, the proof of the pudding is in the eating. So much of this Budget allocation really needs execution. And on that only time will tell.

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