The scientific community in the city said that they felt let down by the Union Budget presented on Thursday. Scientists have pointed out that in the Union Budget presented on Thursday, allotment for researches in Ayurveda and related fields have increased considerably, while fund allotted for “mainstream scientific research” that are internationally recognised, have been reduced, Ahead of the Union Budget, more than 2,000 scientists, technologists and educators submitted a petition to the Prime Minister urging the government to increase the financial support to science and technology to 3 per cent and that to education to 10 per cent of the nation’s GDP.
“Higher education budget has seen 4.2 per cent increase while school education budget has seen 5.9 per cent increase. We find that in the budget of 2018-19 there have been only marginal increases in the outlays in science, technology, and education,” scientist Soumitra Banerjee said.
Department of Scientific & Industrial Research budget has seen an increase of 3.4 per cent. Department of Science & Technology budget has seen an increase of 7.5 per cent. The Department of Biotechnology has seen 6.2 per cent increase. Analysing the figures of the Union Budget, scientist Banerjee said: “The inflation rate (consumer price index) is now around 5 per cent.
This means that the budget outlays barely offset the effects of inflation. If we take into account the increase in salary of government servants as a result of latest pay commission recommendations, we find that the spending on scientific research (infrastructure, equipment, etc.) has actually gone down.”
“Notable is the fact that the Ministry of Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy (AYUSH) has got Rs 1626.37 crore, which is about 30 per cent of the budget of DST and 71 per cent of the budget of DBT. Probably much of this is to be spent on Panchgavya research,” Dhruba Mukherjee, another eminent scientist rued.
Additionally, the Union finance minister in the school education sector proposed that by the year 2022, every block with more than 50 per cent ST population and at least 20,000 tribal persons, will have an Ekalavya Model Residential School. City teachers, however, felt that such measures will only increase the gap between the tribal population and mainstream education system. Swapan Mondal associated with the Bengal Teachers and Employees’ Association ( BTEA) said, “This budget does not give anything new to the mainstream education sector.”