We have studied the budget to understand what it means for the children of India. Our conclusion is that while there are some encouraging even though marginal increases in the budgets allocated under the various government schemes for children, the government has not done enough for the children of India.
As compared to last year, the budget proposed only a 0.2% increase in the outlays for child specific schemes.
Here’s an analysis of the various components of the budget linked to Children.
Health and Nutrition
Integrated Child Development Scheme
The budget for the Integrated Child Development Scheme [ICDS] has been increased by 58% and now stands at a total of 15850 crores.
The actual requirement for the ICDS as per the recommendation of the Working group of Child Rights under the current 5 year plan is something around Rs. 36,600 crores as per Ministry of Women and Child Development’s demands to provide bare minimum services.
The government has only allocated half of the actual money required to ensure effective coverage under the ICDS.
The Finance Minister has promised operationalization of 14 lakh Aganwadi centers in the fiscal year 2012-13. 20,000 of these will be operationalized on demand.
Multi Sectoral Program
The government has promised the launch of a multi-sectoralprogramme to address maternal and child malnutrition in 200 high burden districts. It will synergise nutrition, sanitation, drinking water, primary health care, women education, food security and consumer protection schemes.
But, it doesn’t have any budget line to operationalize it.
The scope of work for the [ASHAs] have been increased to include prevention of iodine deficiency disorders, ensuring 100 per cent immunisation and better spacing of children.
As salaries of ASHA’s are linked to performance, the additional workload will lead to an automatic increase in their salaries as per the Finance Minister.
However there is no proper performance review system for ASHA’s. In the absence of a robust system for performance review this is highly subjective and means nothing.
Child Labour and Protection
12.6 million children in India are currently involved in Child labour, the financial allocation made under the budget does not stand match up with the governments claims of abolishing child labour.
The allocation for the centrally sponsored Integrated Child Protection Scheme[ICPS] has received only Rs. 400 crores, which is only 40% of the Rs. 1060 crores recommended by the Working Group on Child Rights for the 12th five year plan.
Though, there is an increment from the previous year, it is nowhere near the actual demands of the government to roll out this programme is going to be a challenge or unmet during this five year plan as well.
Sarva Siksha Abiyaan
The budget for the SarvaShikshaAbhiyaan saw a marginal increase from Rs. 21,000 crores last fiscal to 25,555 crores in the coming fiscal.
The government itself had estimated that it will need Rs. 1.82 lakh crores to operationalize the RTE, which means every year something between 36,000 to 40,000 crores is required. The current allocation of Rs. 25,555 crores is grossly inadequate.
Mid-Day Meal Scheme
The budgetary allocation for the Mid-day Meal Scheme was also hiked nominally from Rs. 10,380 crores to Rs. 11937 crores for the year 2012-13.
An allocation of 750 crorehas been proposed for Rajiv Gandhi Scheme for Empowerment of Adolescent Girls, SABLA. This figure again does not come close to the recommendation of the Working Group which recommends an average annual amount of Rs. 6400 crore.
Overall the budget has been a disappointment; we will continue working with other civil society organisations to ensure that the government pays adequate attention to issues related to children and backs up its statements with adequate allocation of resources.