The COVID-19 pandemic has adversely affected the Indian economy and society in varied ways. In this article, you can read the details of the Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan – which is the name given to the full-fledged economic stimulus package announced by the Union Government. This comes under the economy, polity, disaster management, and current affairs segments of the UPSC syllabus.
Do you know? Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan was highlighted on India’s 72nd Republic Day (2021). Department of Biotechnology showcased COVID-19 vaccine development process in their tableau.
The Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan (meaning self-reliant India scheme) was announced in four tranches by the Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in May 2020.
The economic stimulus relief package announced by the government is touted to be worth Rs.20 Lakh crores. This includes the already announced Rs 1.70 lakh crore relief package, as the PMGKY, for the poor to overcome difficulties caused by the coronavirus pandemic and the lockdown imposed to check its spread.
5 Important Facts about Atmanirbhar Bharat Scheme
The Prime Minister announced that an Atmanirbhar Bharat or a self-reliant India should stand on the following five pillars:
21st-century technology-driven arrangements and system
The 20 lakh crore worth package is almost 10% of the GDP of the country.
The package emphasizes on land, labour, liquidity, and laws.
The package includes measures across many sectors such as MSME, cottage industries, middle class, migrants, industry, etc.
Several reforms are announced to make India a self-reliant economy and mitigate negative effects in the future. Some of the reforms are:
Simple and clear laws
Rational taxation system
Supply chain reforms in agriculture
Capable human resources
Robust financial system
Let’s take a look at how India’s relief package stands in comparison to those announced by other countries:
Percentage of GDP
13% (2.7 trillion USD – largest in absolute monetary terms)
In the following sections, we discuss the four tranches of the economic relief package as announced by the FM.
Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan – Tranche 1
Watch the video lecture on the first tranche of the Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan below:
The first tranche contained 16 specific announcements and they spanned across the MSME, NBFC, real estate, power sectors, etc.
Extended deadline for income tax returns for the financial year 2019-20 (due date pushed to 30 Nov 2020)
The rates of Tax Deduction at Source (TDS) and Tax Collection at Source (TCS) have been cut by 25% for the next year.
EPF support, provided to low-income organized workers in small units under the PMGKY, is being extended for another 3 months.
PF payments have been reduced from 12% to 10% for both employers and employees for the next 3 months.
The ₹3 lakh crore emergency credit line announced will ensure that 45 lakh units will have access to working capital to resume business activity and safeguard jobs.
Provision of ₹20,000 crores as subordinate debt for 2 lakh MSMEs which are stressed or deemed non-performing assets.
A ₹50,000 crore equity infusion is planned, through an MSME fund of funds with a corpus of ₹10,000 crores.
The definition of an MSME is being expanded to allow for higher investment limits and the introduction of turnover-based criteria. Read more on May 20, 2020, CNA.
Global tenders will not be allowed for government procurement up to ₹200 crores.
The government and central public sector enterprises will release all funds due to MSMEs within 45 days.
Rs 30,000 crore special liquidity scheme, under which investment will be made in investment-grade debt papers of NBFCs.
Partial credit guarantee scheme extended under which the govt. guarantees 20 percent of the first loss to the lenders — NBFCs, HFCs, and MFIs with low credit rating.
₹90,000 Cr. liquidity Injection has been announced.
States and UTs have been advised to extend the registration and completion date of real estate projects by six months.
Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan – Tranche 2
The second tranche focuses on providing free food grains to migrant workers who do not possess ration cards.
Free food grains
The Centre will spend ₹3,500 crores for providing free food grains for migrant workers without ration cards for the next 2 months. This is an extension of the PMGKY.
Street vendors will be given access to easy credit through a ₹5,000 crore scheme, which will offer ₹10,000 loans for initial working capital.
Plans to enroll 2.5 crore farmers who are not yet part of the Kisan Credit Cards scheme, along with fish workers and livestock farmers, and provide them with ₹2 lakh crore worth of concessional credit.
NABARD will provide additional refinance support worth ₹30,000 crores to rural banks for crop loans.
Small businesses who have taken loans under the MUDRA-Shishu scheme, meant for loans worth ₹50,000 or less, will receive a 2% interest subvention relief for the next year.
Affordable rental housing
A scheme to build rental housing complexes through PPP mode would be launched under the existing Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY) scheme.
Both public and private agencies will be incentivized to build rental housing on government and private land while existing government housing will be converted into rental units.
The credit linked subsidy scheme for lower-middle-class housing under PMAY will also be extended by one year to March 2021.
One Nation One Ration Card Scheme
By August 2020, the ration card portability scheme will allow 67 crore NFSA beneficiaries in 23 connected States to use their cards at any ration shop anywhere in the country.
States are directed to enroll migrant workers returning to their native places in the MGNREGA scheme.
Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan – Tranche 3
The third tranche of the economic relief package focuses on agricultural marketing reforms. Many of the reforms announced are long pending and are expected to have a positive impact on both the farmers and the consumers.
Plans to enact a central law to permit barrier-free inter-State trade of farm commodities and e-trading.
This will allow farmers to sell produce at attractive prices beyond the current mandi system.
Plans to ensure a facilitative legal framework to oversee contract farming.
This would provide farmers with assured sale prices and quantities even before the crop is sown and also allow private players to invest in inputs and technology in the agricultural sector.
The Centre will be deregulating the sale of six types of agricultural produce, including cereals, edible oils, oilseeds, pulses, onions, and potatoes, by amending the Essential Commodities Act, 1955.
Stock limits will not be imposed on these commodities except in case of national calamity or famine or an extraordinary surge in prices. These stock limits would not apply to processors and exporters.
Investment of 1.5 lakh crore rupees to build farm-gate infrastructure and support logistics needs for fish workers, livestock farmers, vegetable growers, beekeepers, and related activities.
Atmanirbhar Bharat Abhiyan – Tranche 4
The final tranche focuses on the sectors of defense, aviation, power, mineral, atomic, and space. There is a huge emphasis on privatization.
Provisions for banning the import of some weapons and platforms to indigenise defense production.
There is a provision for a separate budget for domestic capital procurement. This would help reduce the defense import bill and encourage domestic production.
The FDI limit in defense manufacturing under the automatic route will be raised from 49% to 74%.
Ordnance Factory Boards (OFB) would be corporatized and listed on the stock market to improve autonomy, efficiency, and accountability.
The government monopoly on coal would be removed with the introduction of commercial mining on a revenue-sharing basis.
The private sector would be allowed to bid for 50 coal blocks. Private players would also be allowed to undertake exploration activities.
Private involvement in space will be encouraged.
A level playing field for private players will be created in the space sector, allowing them to use ISRO facilities and participate in future projects on space travel and planetary exploration.
The government will ease geospatial data policy to make remote-sensing data more widely available to tech entrepreneurs, with safeguards put in place.
Six more airports are up for auction on private-public partnership mode, while additional private investment will be invited at 12 airports.
Measures to ease airspace restrictions have been announced which would make flying more efficient.
Rationalizing of the MRO (maintenance, repair, and operations) tax structure to make India an MRO hub.
Power departments/utilities and distribution companies in U.T.s would be privatized based on a new tariff policy to be announced.
Research reactors in PPP mode would be set up for the production of medical isotopes.
Frequently asked Questions about the Atmanirbar Bharat
What is the aim of Atmanirbhar Bharat?
The aim is to make the country and its citizens independent and self-reliant in all senses. Five pillars of Aatma Nirbhar Bharat were outlined – Economy, Infrastructure, System, Vibrant Demography and Demand.
What is the general concept behind the Atmanirbar Bharat initiative?
Atmanirbhar Bharat is used as an umbrella concept in relation to making India “a bigger and more important part of the global economy”, pursuing policies that are efficient, competitive and resilient, and being self-sustaining and self-generating