According to a report by the non-government organisation Child Rights and You (CRY), the government has allocated Rs 90,594 crore for children in the interim budget of 2019, which is a meagre 0.01 percentage point increase in the 3.25 per cent of the overall budget compared to the previous year.
The report, titled “Analysis on what is stored for Children in Interim Union Budget 2019-20”, was published immediately after the interim budget, and noted that even though children constitute nearly 40% of India’s population, yet the funds allocated for their education, development, health, and protection have remained almost constant over the years.
Source CRY and you 2019
According to the report, the increase, in absolute numbers, amounts to Rs. 9,358 crores, i.e., from Rs. 81,235.63 crores in 2018-19 (RE) to Rs. 90594.25 crores in 2019-20 (BE).
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The largest chunk of the amount is allocated to education, (68 per cent), followed by development (26 per cent), health (3 per cent), and protection (2 per cent). The allocation for education has fallen 1.1 percentage points from the previous budget, and the allocation for protection has increased by 0.6 percentage points. The allocations for development and health have remained almost same.
“The interim budget 2019 has shown positive trends towards the vulnerable sections of our society, including farmers, small entrepreneurs and the tax-paying middle classes. Yet, for almost 40% of India’s population comprising of its children, it failed to address the expectations of the nation as children were neither a part of the budget speech nor were they visible anywhere in the 10-point vision for 2030,” Puja Marwaha, chief executive officer of CRY told IndiaSpend.
The report notes that there has been a ‘clear but gradual decline’ in the share of budget allocated to education, even though it continues to be the dominant component over other thematic areas in budget for children. It states that the budget allocation for education has been reduced from 79 per cent in 2015-16 BE to 68 per cent in 2019-20 BE.
It reads, “In recent years, especially in context of education, Government has attempted to make use of other recoveries, such as Basic and Secondary Education Cess to find the resources for the burgeoning needs of the education component. This includes various options such as Prarambhik Shiksha Kosh, Madhyamik and Uchhatar Shiksha Kosh (MUSK), National Investment Fund, and Central Road and Infrastructure Fund (CRIF). In the meantime, gross budgetary support, or the Government’s own share of financial resources pumped into the school education sector have been reducing.”
It is also mentioned that the budget allocation for post and pre-matriculation scholarships for marginalised groups has remained almost stagnant, or in fact, has been reduced. The fall in post-matriculation scholarship has been the highest for SCs (-60 per cent) and the least for OBCs (-17 per cent).
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The budget allocation for the health of children also saw a 0.5 percentage points decline from the previous year. Even though the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) – an integrated early childhood program to reduce child mortality – saw a 19 per cent increase in funds, the analysis says that “even this substantial increase may not be adequate” meet the demands in anganwadis.
“Under Anganwadi and Asha Yojana, honorarium has been enhanced by about 50% for all categories of workers,” Piyush Goyal, interim finance minister, said in his budget speech on February 1, 2019. However, according to a report by IndiaSpend, as many as 11 states and four union territories have not announced any change in the additional salary paid to anganwadi workers and anganwadi helpers since 2015.
The analysis also mentions that even though on one hand the allocation for the Integrated Child Protection Scheme, a centrally sponsored scheme that aims at building a protective environment for children through government-civil society partnership, doubled to Rs 1,500 crore from last year, on the other hand, the allocation for the Beti Bachao Beti Padhao programme, aimed at preventing gender-biased sex selective elimination and ensuring survival, protection, and education of the girl child, has remained stagnant since the last budget. Out of the funds released for the scheme after it was launched in 2015, 56% has been spent on media-related activities, that is, advertising and publicity.
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The report also mentions that the budget allocated for the National Child Labour Project, that rehabilitates working children, has been reduced by 17% from the last budget. The amount has been reduced from Rs 120 crore to Rs 100 crore.