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Friday, February 3, 2017

Indian Children Escape Attention of the Powerful: Budget 2017-2018


Some Cheer But More Tears


Indian Children



The Modi Regime’s third budget has seen a sharp cut in funding related to schemes addressing needs of India’s crucial sector, it’s children. Children have received 3.32 per cent resources of the total Union budget in 2017-18. This remains same as the allocation in the Union Budget last year.


In 2017-18, the share of child health stands to be a mere 0.12 per cent of the total Union Budget. Although there has been an inconsistent trend in financing the health sector for children, with the figures going up and down in the previous years, the needs of child health have remained neglected, and this is visible even in the 2017-18 budget.



The implementation of the promises of the National Policy for Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) 2013 through the ICDS and other structures necessitates a re-look at the allocations. This includes upgradation of crèche schemes to serve as vehicles to help young children develop holistically. The scheme related to crèches received increased allocation of Rs. 200 Crores in 2017-18 as it was Rs. 150 Crores in 2016-17 Budget, a 33.3 per cent increase. An interesting addition was the allocation of Rs. 0.63 crores in 2017-18 for crèche facilities for the para-military forces - CISF, ITBP and SSB, which had no mention in the last year’s budget.
Since the survival and health of infants is closely linked to that of the mother’s heath, appropriate allocation and spending under IGMSY and JSY as per programme commitments must be ensured.IGMSY received a substantial increase of575 per cent this year, (from Rs. 400 Crores in 2016-17 to Rs. 2700 in 2017-18) which reflects on the government’s commitment towards mother and child care.



Mr. Jaitley emphasized that his budget this year was for the Dalits, Tribals, Minorities and Women. How does he justify the cut in budgets for schemes for education for SC boys?
A detailed analysis of the budgetary allocations for children has been undertaken by Haq, Centre for Child Rights. The Report may be read here.


Extracts:

Key Points for Children


  • The share of children in the Union Budget 2017-18 has remained the same as 2016-17. 
  • Education saw an increase of six per cent in absolute terms. Despite this increase to Rs. 50300.53 Crores in 2017-18, it has failed to reach the amount allocated for the schemes/programmes in 2014-15 of Rs. 58544.42 Crores prior to devolution. Moreover it is a concern that its share has fallen from 2.40 per cent to 2.34 per cent within the Union Budget. 
  • Child Development has received a 13.32 per cent increase in allocation in 2017-18. As a share of the Union Budget it has gone up from 0.77 per cent to 0.80 per cent. 
  • Child protection received more attention witha 55per cent increase from last year (2016-17). Despite this, the share in the Union Budget has increased from a meager 0.03 per cent to 0.05per cent. 
  • ICPS, the flagship programme, received Rs. 648 Crores in 2017-18, an increase of 63 per cent from last year’s Rs. 397 Crores (2016-17) and 61 per cent from 2015-16. 
  • One of the flagship schemes to fulfill the nutritional needs of young children – ICDS, remains under resourced with Rs. 15245.19 Crores allocation. 
  • India’s overall public health expenditure is just 1.2 per cent of its GDP as against the WHO standard of at least three per cent of GDP. Child health continues to have the same allocation as last year,a meagre 0.12 per cent share in the Union Budget 2017-18. Although in absolute terms there is an increase in 13.46 per cent. 
  • Interestingly, many of the schemes/ programmes have shown substantial increase inallocations compared to Union Budget 2016-17:
  • In Statement 12, the overall allocation for children under the Department of Health and Family Welfare has increased by 13.46 per cent. 
  • The overall allocations for children related schemes/ programmes under the Department of Social Justice and Empowerment has shown a decrease of 37.18 per cent – from Rs. 1017.05 Crores to Rs. 638.93 Crores.

Child Health


In 2017-18, the share of child health stands to be a mere 0.12 per cent of the total Union Budget. Although there has been an inconsistent trend in financing the health sector for children, with the figures going up and down in the previous years, the needs of child health have remained neglected, and this is visible even in the 2017-18 budget.


The Finance Minister in his speech mentioned that an “action plan has been prepared to reduce IMR from 39 in 2014 to 28 by 2019 and MMR from 167 in 2011-13 to 100 by 2018-2020. 1.5 lakh Health Sub Centres will be transformed into Health and Wellness Centres.



Further, as announced by the Prime Minister, under the Maternity Benefit Scheme, Rs. 6,000 each would be transferred directly to the bank accounts of pregnant women who undergo institutional delivery and vaccinate their children. This is going to directly impact the health of children.



In the Union Budget 2017-18, Kalawati Saran Children’s Hospital received 16.7 per cent increased allocation against the previous year.



It is critical to note here that Kalawati Saran Children’s Hospital has been featuring in media reports for all the wrong reasons, thoughthehospital has been consistently receiving funds from the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. Despite this, the situation of children in this hospital remains outrageous. This indicates poor utilisation of funds as well as lack of adequate funds.



While the achievements of the National Health Mission in reaching affordable healthcare services must be applauded, the need of universal healthcare, both in terms of access and quality remains a cause of concern. In the Union Budget 2017-18, NRHM-RCH Flexi Pool observed a minor increase of 16 per cent from Rs. 2114.99 Crores in 2016-17 to Rs. 2454.42 Crores in 2017-18.
A Glimpse of Sectoral Allocations in BfC 2017-18…

Following the previous trends, despite almost 55 per cent increase in the child protection sector, it remains heavily under resourced this year too. This must be seen in the context of the major amendments in the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, the current allocations are far away from meeting the requirements. Similarly, child health and child development remain to be nominally resourced and their share in both Union budget and within BfC, do not indicate towards major changes in the current scenario.

Child Development


The Development sector has been allocated 0.80 per cent of the total Union Budget this year. This is onlyThis is only 13.32 per cent increase against previous year’s allocation as it was only 0.77 per cent in the 2016-17 Budget.




According to the Ministry of Women and Child Development’s Rapid Survey on Children, 29.4 per cent children in the age group of 0-59 months have been found to be underweight[1]. Only 49.3 per cent Anganwadicentres had vaccination facility available and only 37.9 per cent children in the age group of 3-6 years are able to receive pre-school education through Anganwadicentres[2].



The 2013-14 survey mentions that 49.2 per cent of children aged 6 to 35 months availed supplementary food under the Anganwadi services. The figure was higher in rural areas (53.8 per cent) compared to urban areas (36.7 per cent). Only 44.2 per cent of the children aged 36-71 months and 40.7 per cent pregnant women availed supplementary food.[3]These figures indicate towards rising nutritional needs of children and also raise serious questions about poor coverage of Anganwadicentres in the country.



This year too, ICDS has not seen much increase and received only Rs. 15245.19 Crores, which is a mere 8.89 per cent of the total union Budget.



ICDS in its universalisationand in third phase of expansion faces many challenges such as inadequate availability of space for AnganwadiCentres (AWCs), vacant posts, low focus on growth monitoring, low focus on early childhood etc.



The Finance Minister announced that Mahila Shakti Kendras would be set up with an allocation of Rs. 500 crores in 14 lakh ICDSAnganwadiCentres. This will provide one stop convergent support services for empowering rural women with opportunities for skill development, employment, digital literacy, health and nutrition. 



However what needs to be figured out here is that how the resources meant for children and adolescents as part of ICDS is going to be utilized towards women’s empowerment. Are resources going to be diverted / shared and children lose out in this process?



The National Nutrition Mission has been allocated Rs. 1100 Crores, an increase of 206 per cent from last year’s allocation of Rs. 360 Crores.



The implementation of the promises of the National Policy for Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) 2013 through the ICDS and other structures necessitates a re-look at the allocations. This includes upgradation of crèche schemes to serve as vehicles to help young children develop holistically. The scheme related to crèches received increased allocation of Rs. 200 Crores in 2017-18 as it was Rs. 150 Crores in 2016-17 Budget, a 33.3 per cent increase. An interesting addition was the allocation of Rs. 0.63 crores in 2017-18 for crèche facilities for the para-military forces - CISF, ITBP and SSB, which had no mention in the last year’s budget.
Since the survival and health of infants is closely linked to that of the mother’s heath, appropriate allocation and spending under IGMSY and JSY as per programme commitments must be ensured.IGMSY received a substantial increase of575 per cent this year, (from Rs. 400 Crores in 2016-17 to Rs. 2700 in 2017-18) which reflects on the government’s commitment towards mother and child care.



Child Education


The total allocation for education (elementary and secondary) is Rs. 50300.53 Crores,which has been an increase of almost six per cent from the previous year.



Even though education sector receives the highest share in the Union budget (2.34 percent) as well as within BfC (70.54 percent), it remains an under resourced area given the national and international commitments and the goal of spending six percent of the GDP on child education. The share of education within the Union Budget as well as the BfC has gone down from the previous year.


SarvaShikshaAbhiyaan (SSA)
Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan is the flagship programme for universal elementary education for children in the age group of 6-14 years, run by the Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD).



RashtriyaMadhyamikShikshaAbhiyaan(RMSA)
RMSA, a centrally sponsored scheme launched in 2009, aimed at providing universal access to quality secondary education by 2017, removing gender, socio-economic and disability barriers.

Total allocation for RMSA for 2017-2018 is Rs. 3830Crores. The share of allocation has increased by 3.5 percent (from Rs. 3700 Croresto Rs. 3830Crores).
 
Mid-day Meal (MDM)
The Mid-day meal scheme of the Ministry of Human Resource Development entitles every child within the age group of 6 to 14 years, studying in classes I to VIII, to be provided meal free of charge in schools.

Mid-day Meal Scheme observed increase of 3.09percent in its allocation (from Rs. 9700 Croresin 2016-2017 to Rs. 10000 Crores in 2017-2018).

Child Protection


As we experienced in previous budgets, child protection sector continues to be on the periphery with the lowest share in the total Union Budget as well as BfC. This year, child protection received only 0.05 per cent of total allocations in the Union Budget and 1.49 per cent within BfC. Like other sectors, this sector too remains under resourced despite an allocation of Rs. 1062.43 Crores - an increase of 54.80 per cent.


This when the NCRB reports an increase of 5.3 per cent in crimes against children between 2014 and 2015,a total of 94,172 cases were registered in the country during 2015 as compared to 89,423 cases during 2014.[4]
The only scheme related to child labour in Statement 12, theNational Child Labour Projectobserved an increase of 14.3 per cent in allocation in the 2017-18 Union Budget (Rs. 140 Crores to Rs. 160 Crores).It must be noted that India is home to 12.6 million child labour[5] in the age group of 5-14 years. It is also commendable that after India winning the Nobel Peace Prize, the issue has got more attention, but the current allocations indicate towards grave insufficiency in order to eradicate this evil.



One of the biggest umbrella schemes to address the needs of child protection, Integrated Child Protection Scheme has seen a considerable increase by 63 per cent from the previous year’s budget - from Rs. 397 Crores in 2016-2017 to Rs. 648 Crores in 2017-18. 



However the focus needs to be on the implementation of the scheme on the ground and monitoring of the outcomes.
The BetiBachaoBetiPadhao (BBBP) scheme, launched in January 2015, saw a 100 per cent increase in allocation, from Rs. 100 Crores in 2016-17 to Rs. 200 Crores in 2017-18. 
The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) emphasizes on the principle of universality and inviolability of child rights and focuses on protection of all children in the 0 to 18 years age group. NCPCR has been allocated a total sum of Rs. 19 Crores in the Union Budget 2017-18, the same as in previous year’s budget.
The total allocation for SSA is Rs. 23500.00 Crores in 2017-18, showing an increase by 4.44percent (Rs. 22500 Crores in 2016-17). However it still does not match the allocation of Rs. 27758.00 in 2014-15, prior to the devolution.



According to Accountability Initiative, in the FY 2016-17 the MHRD estimated a resource demand of Rs. 55,000 Crores, however the budget for the year allocated was Rs. 22,500 Crores.The expenditure on SSA as a share of total approved budgets has been decreasing. In FY 2015-16, 70 per cent of the approved budget was spent, down from 75 per cent in FY 2014-15. Due to lack of data on funds released by states for FY 2015-16, it is unclear whether the low expenditures are due to a delay in fund release or because of the low absorption capacity of the states.[6]



As the primary vehicle for implementing the Right to Free and Compulsory Education Act (RTE), with such gaps in the total allocation and the total approved budget, one could only see the non-implementation of this scheme in full spirit.



The ASER survey 2016[7]had some interesting observations on the education scenario in the country. At the all India level, the enrollment increased for all age groups between 2014 and 2016 in the government schools while no change was noticed in the enrollment in private schools during this period. The learning levels, both reading and arithmetic, had gone up in government schools. While there was improvement in school facilities in terms of accessibility to drinking water and toilet facilities, as well as increase in "small schools" in the government primary school sector, children's attendance did not show major change from 2014.

Conclusion


The fourth Union Budget presented by the current government does not show any remarkable change in the financial allocations for schemes and programmes for children in the country. While under some schemes/programmes there have been remarkable increase, it has been balanced by the decrease in others. Overall there has been an allocation of 3.32 per cent for children, the same as last year.


Mr. Jaitley emphasized that his budget this year was for the Dalits, Tribals, Minorities and Women. How does he justify the cut in budgets for schemes for education for SC boys?



(There is a 275% increase for the girls’ hostel scheme for SC girls). Where will these boys go? What is their future in the absence of hostels or scholarships? How will they stand up for India? 



The political commitment towards the young citizens of this nation is yet to be translated into allocation of financial resources towards their health, education, protection and development. What needs to be seen is how these schemes and programmes are implemented in the next financial year. Are our children going to benefit in terms of improvement in the quality of their health, education, development and protection?



Overall, this budget brings some cheers and some tears...


[2] Ibid
[4]http://ncrb.nic.in/, Crime in India 2015, Chapter 6
[5] Census of India 2011
[6]Accountability Initiative, Budget Briefs, Vol 9, Issue 2, Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA), GOI, 2016-17,http://www.accountabilityindia.in/budget/briefs/download/1602


Courtesy- sabrangindia

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