Health Budget Increased by 137 Percent But Enough for Recovery? 

The finance minister identified “health and well-being” as one of the six pillars of the budget.

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In the shadow of the coronavirus pandemic, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman gave a fresh impetus to the Indian healthcare sector as she tabled the Union Budget 2021 on 1 February.

The very first item on her checklist, the health budget –– with a total outlay of Rs 2.24 lakh crore –– witnessed a nearly 137 percent jump from last year. The finance minister said that the fight against coronavirus will continue well into 2021, as she identified "health and well-being" as one of the six pillars of the Budget.

Apart from healthcare, the Budget gave major emphasis to infrastructure and agriculture sectors. Amid chants to 'repeal the farm laws' that has caused countrywide protests for more than two months now, Sitharaman said her government was "committed to the welfare of farmers.”

Talking of infrastructure, the government announced investments in highways, roads, and metros in four states where Assembly elections are due soon –– Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Assam, and West Bengal.

Besides, a host of announcements were made on the divestment front, including the government's decision to privatise two public sector banks and one general insurance company.

Though the Budget has been received favourably by the stock market, with some saying "no bad news is good news", let's dissect some of the highlights – health, agriculture and infrastructure. Does the health budget have enough financing needed for vaccine distribution? How will the new budget allocations for poll-bound states play out for the BJP? What about India's farmers?

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