Successes and failures for the benefit of children
This budget, which is hailed as a blueprint for 25 years before [email protected], was a perfect opportunity to invest in children to realize the vision of [email protected] Realizing every child’s potential for nation-building is therefore paramount. The protracted pandemic has derailed decades of successful development agenda as enshrined in the SDGs. Existing inequalities have worsened since the pandemic. Millions of children, girls and boys, have been pushed deeper into poverty as parents lose their sources of income, limiting access to health, nutrition, education and protection.
Greater focus on children, especially the most vulnerable, as desired, and children and their issues were to be further centralized in Nirmala Sitharaman’s Union budget speech of February 1, 2022, and budget expenditures for 2022 -23.
India’s union budget fails to deliver on the commitment to its children, who make up 41% of its population, on whom investing is critical to achieving equitable and sustainable development.
Budget allocations for child protection
The budget for children now amounts to 2.35% of the total union budget. There is a further reduction of 2.46 percent (BE) in 2021-2022, and is well below the 5 percent recommended by the 2016 National Action Plan for Children.
The share of child health in the Union budget 2022-23 stands at 0.09%, which is down from last year, while the share of child development has increased from 0.57% in 2021-2022 to 0.45%.
The share of children’s education has increased slightly from 1.74% in 2021-2022 to 1.77% in the Union budget 2022-2023. This is well below the 6% of GDP prescribed by the 2020 National Education Policy.
The share of child protection in the EU budget 2022-2023 amounts to 0.04%, which represents a slight increase compared to 0.03% in 2021-22.
The announcement of 80 lakh affordable houses in rural and urban geography, with a budget allocation of 48,000 crore BE22-23 crore under Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana is a welcome step and we anticipate that it would provide housing for the homeless and children from the street.
Schemes for the benefit of children
Measures such as additional teaching and continued focus on One Class One TV via PM e-Vidya, expanded to 200 channels with special emphasis on regional languages for grades up to 12th, can bridge the learning gap. learning created due to the pandemic.
The establishment of a “national tele-mental health program” by creating a network of 23 centers of excellence in tele-mental health across the country is a welcome step towards improving the quality of life of citizens. .
The allocation under Mission Shakti has increased from 3109 crore BE2021-22 to 3184 crore BE2022-23. This includes the components of BBBP and One stop center.
The provision of two lakhs Anganwadi Centers to be upgraded under Saksham Aanganwadi will further improve development outcomes. It is therefore important to ensure that the benefits reach the most marginalized children and adequately meet their health and nutrition needs. The marginal increase of 1% from 2021-22 BE to 2022-23 BE at Saksham Anganwadi and Poshan 2.0 only partially addresses the need to increase investment in direct nutrition interventions. Much more is desired to ensure adequate investment in child nutrition.
It is encouraging to see the acknowledgment of the gap in learning outcomes and the development of a partial strategy to address improved learning loss due to the pandemic.
Samagra Shiksha Abhiyan was given an increased allocation of 20.40% with a total allocation of INR 37383.36 crore in 2022-2023 from INR 31050.16 crore at the BE stage in the 2021-22 Union Budget. This is a positive step to ensure continuity of learning. This initiative must be complemented by a safe return to school and quality face-to-face education. It is essential that the initiative reaches the most marginalized children with limited access to technology.
There is an increase in the allocation for Vatsalaya Mission by 63.6% (from 900 cr BE to 1472.17cr BE) compared to last year. With this increase, we hope there will be increased allocation in program components of family-based, non-institutional alternative care arrangements, such as sponsorship and foster care. This is key bearing in mind the data published by the NCPCR on 1.47 lakh children who were orphaned due to Covid-19.
It is a welcome step to have centers of excellence for urban planning and design in different regions. This will help to assess the specific needs of the region in terms of urban planning and development and will have a positive impact on the well-being of children.
Focusing on clean mobility is a good thing because our cities are the most polluted in the world. If implemented in a timely manner, it will certainly help solve the health problems of children and other people vulnerable to respiratory infections.
There was an increase in the budget allocation for the NCPCR while the reduction in the budget allocation for the NIPPCD
will affect the capacity building of child protection staff. The 326th Report of the Parliamentary Standing Committee related to the department (2021) commenting on grant applications, for the WCD recommended that the NIPCCD focus on gender research and impact studies on programs related to the coordination of children with universities.
It is encouraging to see significant allocations in the national digital health mission (200 crores BE2022-23), 60,000 crores for household tap water and support for the millet mission.
The announcement of 80 lakh affordable houses in rural and urban geography, with a budget allocation of 48,000 crore BE22-23 crore under Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana is a welcome step which will hopefully provide housing for the homeless and the street children.
There was a 51% increase in the PDS budget (40,000 crore BE2021-22 to 60,561 crore BE2022-23), but no announcement was made to include new entrants in poor NFSA compliance.
Urban planning courses are again an important step as they will help train new talent to formulate better planning and design cities. It is important that these institutions become aware of the challenges of the poorest children, women and disabled people in cities. They can focus on developing evidence-based plans and programs that will respond to a holistic policy for the growth of all (leaving no one behind).
The allocation of 300 crore BE2022-23 under the Women’s Support Desk / Strengthening Anti-Human Trafficking Desk by the MHA is a welcome move and we hope this will be used to fund the establishment or maintenance of the AHTU. However, it is important to note that the Anti-Human Trafficking Bill is still awaiting passage in parliament.
There is no specific budget allocation for early childhood education (ECE). Save the Children is asking for a specific allocation of between 1.5 and 2.2% of GDP for ECE.
There was only a marginal increase in the budget allocation for the Pradhan Mantri Matri Vandana Yojana. This diet ensures good nutrition for pregnant and lactating women. However, this may not be enough to extend the benefits of the scheme to a wider population.
The budget allocated to the basic health and nutrition sector is not sufficient to meet the health and nutrition needs of children, especially those left behind at a time when the country is in the midst of a pandemic
The 5% marginal increase (9200 crore BE2021-22 to 9652 crore BE2022-23) for the National Social Assistance Program is not adequate to increase the amount of NSAP benefits by 100%.
The allowance for the MNREGA remains the same as 73,000 crores BE2021-22, which leaves no possibility of increasing the compulsory days under the MNREGA.
There is an 11% drop in allocation under the Pradhan Mantri Poshan Shakti Nirman (PM POSHAN) program. (10,234 crore BE2022-23 from 10,234 crore BE2021-22). This program was previously known as the “National School Lunch Program”
Aligning the NSQF with industry needs should also focus on skills for development professionals, including front-line workforces such as AWWs (with a particular focus on FLN skills), health and child protection for effective service delivery for the most marginalized children.
The COVID pandemic has pushed large numbers of children into child labour, the drastic cut in stipend for the NCLP is a cause for concern. The NCLP saw a significant drop of 75% from 120 crore BE2021-22 to 30 crore BE2022-23. Although
the enhanced allocation under child protection services in the MWCD will focus on a preventive mechanism to prevent children from entering the labor market.
Given the increase in online violence and abuse against women and children, the drastic reduction of funds allocated to the prevention of cybercrime against women and children is a matter of serious concern.
There has been no change in the allocation of special expedited courts under the Ministry of Law and Justice, given the large number of pending cases under the POCSO. According to the NCRB2020 report, 135,184 cases were awaiting trial since the previous year.
The budget is silent on the adaptation of affected communities to climate change. While the budget recognized the relevance of learning outcomes for children, the protection and nutrition needs of children and the social protection of the most marginalized families deserved greater attention. A well-balanced and child-focused budget can pave the way for an equitable [email protected]
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