The increase in allocation of budget for social sector to37% of the total plan outlay in the 2010 – 2011 Budget is appreciative. It reflects the government’s promise to the ‘AamAdmi’.
But sadly about 400 million children who constitute 41% of India’s population have once again been ignored. The share for children in the budget allocation has only a marginal increase from 3.7% last year to 4.1%.
According to the ‘Centre for Budget Governance Accountability’ (CBGA), the sector-wise composition of the 4.1% total outlay for children in the Union Budget 2010 -2011 (BE) is - 75% meant for education, 20% for Child Development, 4% for Child Health and 1% of Child Protection.’ Like the CBGA reports says, it is indeed ‘disappointing to note that the Child Budget continues to be skewed against Child Health and Child Protection.’
The increase for School Education and Literacy from 2.7 % toa mere 2.81 % does not reflect the government’s commitment to the Right to education Bill passed recently. And the mere 1% for Child Protection within the allocation for children is extremely sad. The Government is answerable to the millions of children who are Child Labourers and living on the streets.
As far as Child Health is concerned, India today has disturbing figures like 5000 children under 5 dying every single day. But the share of health sector in the total budget is only 2.3%.This kind of allocation suggests that the government is probably indifferent towards the thousands of children who are deprived of their very basic right – the ‘Right to Live’.
With the plethora of issues faced by children in this country, slow and steady increases in budget allocations cannot solve the problems children face. We need bold, vigorous and proportional allocations to combat issues like Child Labour, School dropouts, Infant mortality, Malnutrition etc.
However, the allocation of 40,100 crores to the NREGA and the 7,266 crores drought relief package for Bundelkhand is laudable. This allocation to Bundelkhand will revive the hopes of a better future for thousands of children affected by the severe drought in the belts of Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh.
Expansion of Integrated Child Development Scheme with adequate budgetary provision and the district wise evaluation of the Status of Health will be much more robust and will mandate civil society and panchayat inthe process.
With more than 25% of the country’s population still living Below the Poverty line, the announcement that the Right to Food Act is ready is a ray of hope. We are waiting for the passing of this bill along with the millions of poor in this country.
But despite certain positive aspects of the Budget 2010-2011,the government has failed to investment in its youth. The Budget does not reflect the vulnerability of the country youth to the negative forces like the fundamentalists and Maoists. The government must step up to stem the drain youth from mainstream to decisive forces.
The government must understand that if we want the increasing number of youth indulging in violence to stop, and a future sans violence, the government should reconsider its investment on youth and children.