Ahead of the Union Budget, CVoter Foundation conducted a nationwide pre-budget poll to gauge what expectations the common man in India has from the budget.
This poll asked some pertinent questions about inflation, the standard of living, expenditure and the Modi government’s performance on the economic front so far. It was conducted on February 24-25, interviewing 1,942 randomly-selected people across all states in the country.
“The demography of India is changing every year. We are adding to the middle-class and it is increasing by the day. But, there is no fixed definition of the middle-class. Anybody who is above the Below Poverty Line (BPL) is considered to be a part of the middle-class. As the middle-class is increasing, so are the expectations, purchasing parity, quality of living etc. We are looking at a new way of how India evaluates the budget and what it expects from it,” explained Yashwant Deshmukh, the Managing Director and Editor of Cvoter Foundation.
“The reason why people aren’t too comfortable with the inflation is because of what has happened cumulatively over the last three years. This includes an inflation of about 10 per cent in the last two years and 4 to 5 per cent in the current year. We are seeing that the consuming power of people has gone down because the incomes have not increased at the same rate,” said Madan Sabnavis, Chief Economist at CARE Ratings.
“This is a double-edge sword. There is an extremely high expectation from the people that the quality of life will improve and that the inflation will get checked. This is good, in a way, because it shows that the honeymoon period of Narendra Modi is still continuing. But, this could lead to lot of bad-mouthing for the government when these unrealistic expectations are not met. The long-term goals will not give instant results,” Deshmukh said.
“It all depends upon how you define “quality of life”. These numbers are fairly reasonable for a family of four. On account of the recent inflation, everyone has had to cut down on certain comforts and that does not really come out in these numbers,” Sabnavis said.
Elaborating on the methodology behind this poll, Deshmukh said, “We have been tracking this particular question for the last ten years and the definition of the quality of life has always been subjective. The subjective understanding of “average” or “decent” living is based on the expectation value as well as the generic societal living standards that have come along with changing times. The best part of this self-assessment of “requirement” is that it is automatically “inflation-adjusted” as the household expenditure is very well updated on the current price-index on practical basis rather than academic and technical jargon basis.”
“There are some trends which are consistent; the household income requirement is going up every year. One thing that stands out is that this is the highest level of expectation that we have found in the last ten years. These are the people on the ground – the common men – who might not be economists, but who have to run their own personal micro-economies. They are the voters who will decide this government’s fate in four years. So, there is a lot to do for the Modi government as far as the economic policy is concerned,” Deshmukh concluded.