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Views | Not much cheer for children in Budget 2012
First Published: Wed, Mar 21 2012. 11 15 PM IST
Updated: Thu, Mar 22 2012. 11 48 AM IST
The finance minister presented his budget on 16 March. The young citizens of India, our children who constitute over 40% of our country and form part of the demographic dividend that India enjoys still receive only 5.3 of the national budget. Indeed this average has always hovered around 5% of the Union Budget.
HAQ Centre for Child Rights has been doing a budget for children analysis for 10 years now analyzing how much is being implemented in the schemes meant for children between 0-18 years. HAQ categorises the programmes and schemes meant for children into four sectors viz. protection, development (covers 0-6 years and other overarching schemes that do not fit into other category), health and education.
Union Budget 2012-13 allocates 5.3 % in budget for children (BfC) with an increase of only 0.3% since 2011-12.
It is important to study this year’s budget allocation in the context of requirements of the 12th Five Year Plan and the unfulfilled commitments of the 12th Five Year Plan. The finance minister has in his speech said “In the 12th Plan, 6,000 schools have been proposed to be set up at block level as model schools to benchmark excellence. Of these, 2500 will be set up under Public Private Partnership.” Is this why he has reduced the allocation for building model schools from Rs1,200 crore to Rs1,079 crore, a decline of 10%?
As always, the share of protection sector remains the lowest at 0.04%. Despite recognition of protection of children in the 11th Five Year Plan and reaffirmation in the Working Group Report, ministry of women and child development for the 12th Plan, there is 18% fall in allocation. This is when—child sex ratio (0-6 year), as per Census 2011 data, has dropped 13 points to 914 girls per 1000 boys from 927 in 2001 and crime against children has risen by 10% from 24,201 in 2009 to 26,694 cases in 2010.
There is a 64.6% increase in the allocation for the Integrated Child Protection Scheme from Rs243 crore to Rs400 crore. This is indeed important, given the fact that even after the 11th Five Year Plan period is finished, states are yet to implement the programme. However, this must be seen in the context of the request made the minsitry of women and child development for Rs5,300 crores for the five year period which is an average of Rs1,060 crores per year!
At least 60% decline in allocation for National Child Labour Project after showing an unprecedented increase in 2011-12 of 176.3% is not understood as it seems contradictory to the proposed plan of the ministry of labour & employment as submitted in its recommendations of the Working Group on Child Labour for the 12th Plan. Among the other recommendations – it proposed to extend the scheme in other districts based on the child labour data of Census 2011. It also proposed to build residential schools for migrant child labour, enhancement of honorarium of Staff of NCLP society/schools and enhancement of stipend of school children.
Following the recommendations of the Prime Minister’s National Council on India’s National Challenges, the attention given to malnutrition and the introduction of the multi-sectoral programme to address maternal and child malnutrition in selected 200 high burden districts is a very important step given that 46% of our children suffer malnutrition. However where is the additional allocation to back this promise? It is neither in the statement of the health ministry or that of the ministry of women and child development. Again, the recognition for attention to urban health is very important through the National Urban Health Mission. However, there is no budget line to match this very good intent.
A 29.7% increase in the allocation in the health schemes for children over 2011-12, is really welcome as the health allocations are really low. The increase in allocation can be traced to the 223% increase in the manufacture of serum and vaccine and 32% increase in strengthening of Immunisation Programme & Eradication of Polio (includes routine immunisation and pulse polio).
For the first time there is a scheme targetting adolescent boys (Sakhsam) to make them self reliant and gender sensitive. The Scheme will primarily focus on all out of school boys in the age group of 10-18 years. The small allocation of Rs10 lakhs has been made for the preparatory work for formulating the schemes. When formulated, this scheme according to the ministry of women and child’s (MWCD) working group for the 12th Plan says they will require Rs9,729 core for the five years of the 12th Plan.
There is a 43% increase in the allocation for Rajiv Gandhi Creche Scheme from Rs76.5 crore to 2011-12 to Rs110 crore this year. However, this allocation also falls short of the MWCD’ estimates of Rs1,920 for the Plan period (Rs384 per yer) as suggested in its Working Group report. Hence there is a 71% shortfall in what is required and what has been allocated.
The share of the development sector has seen an overall increase by 66.2% over 2011-12. This is largely due to the 71.6% increase in the ICDS. However, the ICDS programme has largely bypassed children with disabilities and dalits and minority groups.
The marginalised have been further marginalised with reduced allocation of 32.4% in Post Matric Scholarship for SC students and 30% decline in the scheme for Inclusive Education for the Disabled at the Secondary Education (IEDSS). There is a new allocation of Rs30 crore for Post Metric Scholarship for Students with Disabilities but interesting to note that the allocation matches Rs30 crore reduced from IEDSS. There is a 29% increase in the allocation for Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan (RMSA) launched in 2009-10.
So while there is an increase in some of the allocations for children, when matched with the poor indicators for children, some of which is even lower than Sub-Saharan Africa, it is important to ask the question- is it enough? And the answer is, thank you sir for the increase, but it still is not enough.
Madhumita Purkayastha and Enakshi Thukral work for HAQ: Centre for Child Rights