Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman presented the Union Budget for 2023 in the Lok Sabha on Wednesday. Chances are that if you have been following the budget on news or on social media, you would be aware of these two developments (thanks to multiple memes on social media),
A) There is a 16% increase in customs duty on cigarettes – which means that cigarettes are going to get expensive, and
B) The income tax rebate has increased from ₹5 lakhs to ₹7 lakhs under the new regime.
These two changes, though important, form just a small portion of the Union Budget.
So, in order to know more about how the changes in the budget will affect you, you decide to follow the budget as it is announced. But if you, like me, are bad at finance and math, the budget announcement that is heavily laden with economic jargon simply fails to make any sense.
This meme perfectly sums up how most of us try to understand the budget.
Or this one.
Or even this one.
And that just makes me wonder why we aren’t taught the basics of our budget in school.
Commerce students have a chapter on the National Budget in their Class 12 syllabus. But what about the other students? For most people, important terms from the budget like capital expenditure, capital investment, or fiscal deficit would not make any sense simply because they don’t know what it means.
Wouldn’t it be nicer if every student, regardless of their streams, is given a basic course on finance and taxes? Most of us dread filing our income tax returns because the whole process is daunting. Add to that the multiple deductions and the jargon-heavy FORM 16. Leave the filing part to the professionals, but imagine if we knew what each term means.
In a similar vein, if all of us had a crash course on finance at the school level, understanding the various facets of the union budget (which affects all of us) would have been a moderately easy task. We would know exactly what investment plans the government has, what new savings scheme has been introduced, and the rest.
I passed out of school almost seven years ago. To date, I haven’t used the Pythagoras Theorem in real life yet. Maybe if we were taught the basics of finance and taxes, that would have been more useful.