“Eradication of poverty and special attention to children needs to be central to the post-2015 Development Agenda”. — Bishnoi, India’s Permanent Representative to the UN

By Enakshi Ganguly Thukral, Bharti Ali & Farhana Yasmin*

Children constitute 39 % of India’s population and home to 20 % of the world’s child population have never received more than 5% of the total Union Budget allocation in the last 15 years.children budget

The government has been highlighting its priority areas for the budget and has talked about significant tax reforms, smart cities, skill development, women’s security, budget for the social sector, among other things.

Close to one-third of the world’s extreme poor are concentrated in India. Children remain the most vulnerable. However, the outcome indicators for children show huge deficiencies at present and they can be addressed only with enhanced allocation and expenditure under different child welfare programmes.

HAQ’s Budget for Children [BfC] analysis for the last 15 years shows that children have never received more than 5 % of the total Union Budget allocation. In 2014-15, out of every 100 Rupees allocated in the Union Budget, the share of children was only Rs 4.52.

The Union Budget 2015-16 is the second opportunity for the BJP led government in the Centre to take its development agenda forward and show its commitment to children.

But ironically, in the union budget presented by finance minister, Arun Jaitley on Saturday, children have received a little over 3% of the total budget in 2015-16 compared to 4.52% in the 2014-15 budget.

Shocking, But True : Budget 2015-16 Reduces Allocations For Children In Budget 2015-2016

Where is your Commitment to Children Mr. FM?

“Madam Speaker, I hope to garner some additional resources during the year from tax buoyancy. If I am successful, then over and above the budgetary allocation, I will endeavour to enhance allocations to MGNREGA by Rs 5,000 crore; Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS) by Rs 1,500 crore; Integrated Child Protection Scheme (ICPS) by Rs 500 crore; …. .(para 55)

In spite of the large increase in devolution to states, which implies reduced fiscal space for the Centre in the same proportion we are committed to the welfare of the poor and the neo-middle class. Keeping this in mind, adequate provision is being made for the schemes for the poor and the dis-advantaged. Illustratively, I have allocated Rs 68,968 crore to the education sector including mid-day meals, RS 33,152 crore to the health sector and RS 79,526 crore for rural development activities including MGNREGA, RS 22,407 crore for housing and urban development, RS 10,351 crore for women and child development…(para 84)

Shri Arun Jaitley, Budget Speech 2015-16

The reality is …

The budget of Ministry of Women and Child Development [MoWCD] has been slashed by 55% from Rs 18588.39 crore to Rs 10382.40 crore.

Share of BfC in Union Budget
Year BE RE
2012-2013 4.76 4.69
2013-2014 4.64 4.56
2014-2015 4.52 4.16
2015-2016 3.26 NA 
* BE : Budget Estimates / RE : Revised Estimates

Incidentally, India is one of the first countries in the world to have a separate budget for children. In 2007, Statement 22 was introduced in the Budget listing out the schemes and programmes for children. Based on the Statement 22, Volume 2 of the Expenditure Budget. What is more there has been a consistent fall in the share of children in the budget over the years raising concerns about the government’s political commitment to children of India.

In 2015-16 the share of health sector for children is just 0.13 %. Over the years there has been a decline in the share of health for children. How can this be justified in the context of the situation of health of children?

Budget for children reduced by 29 % 

22% reduction in health related schemes for children

25% reduction in overall education schemes for children

Thousands of children die every year from preventable diseases and infections. In the absence of a sound public health care system delivering services for children, it is not possible to improve child health outcomes, particularly for the poor. Infant mortality in India is 42 per thousand births, main reasons for which are early childhood diseases and childbirth-related causes.

Thousands of children die every year from preventable diseases and infections. In the absence of a sound public health care system delivering services for children, it is not possible to improve child health outcomes, particularly for the poor. Infant mortality in India is 42 per thousand births, main reasons for which are early childhood diseases and childbirth-related causes.25% reduction in overall
education schemes for children

Similarly, nearly 9 crore children in the age group 0-3 years and with the 40% prevalence of underweight, 35.6 million among them are underweight children, according to the Census 2011. About 2.3 crore children in India are malnourished. Yet under this scheme, the budgetary allocation has come down by 54.19%.

Key Observations : Just as the world community through the UN Human Rights Council is declaring its commitment towards better investment in the rights of the Child, it is ironic to see India, which was one of the few countries to have recognized the importance of Child Budgeting, step back on its commitment through its reduced allocations for children.

The share allocation for children in the 2015-16 has gone down to a little over 3 percent of the total budget. It was 4.52 % in 2014-15.

In fact there has been a consistent decline in the share for children in the budget over the yeas.

Despite the fall in allocations in the education sector, it continues to receive the largest share of the Budget for Children (BfC).

Protection continues to receive the smallest share but there is a minuscule increase in the integrated Child Protection Scheme.

Is this rhetoric or promises to keep?

Mr. Arun Jaitley said, “Educating and skilling our youth to enable them to get employment is the altar before which we must all bow. To ensure that there is a senior secondary school within 5 km reach of each child, we need to upgrade over 80,000 secondary schools and add or upgrade 75,000 junior/middle, to the senior secondary level. We also have to ensure that education improves in terms of quality and learning outcomes.” His allocation for education shows otherwise.

Scheme Percentage Fall in Allocation
Sarva Shiksha Abhiyaan -20.74
Mid- day meal Scheme -30.11
Rashtriya Madhayamik Shiksha Abhiyaan -28.70
Scheme for Setting up of 6000 model School at Block Level As bench mark of Excellence -99.92
Support to Education including teacher training -36.55

The Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) is the flagship welfare programme of Ministry of Women and Child Development, which provides food, preschool education, and primary healthcare to children less than 6 years of age and their mothers.

In FY 2015-16, ICDS accounted for 87.39% of the MoWCD budget and 91.46% of the child development sector budget. ICDS in mission mode had estimated a budget of Rs 28454 crore in 2015-16 for implementation of the scheme.

The Budget of MoWCD has come down by 55% from Rs 18.588.39 crore to Rs 10382.40 crore. There has been a fall of 29% in the current budget for children from 2014-2015. Mid day meal scheme too observed a decline of 30.11% in its allocation from Rs 13215.00 crore in 2014-2015 to Rs 9236.40 crore in 2015-2016.

The Government’s programmes are tailored towards its ‘Make in India’, ‘Skill India’ vision and the budget has focused heavily on Infrastructure, Renewable Energy, Agriculture and Defence. However in doing so, it has taken money away from an area where it is most needed. Therefore the question remains, how can a country where children are not accounted for, be truly called a Developed Country?

SAFE INDIA
SKILL INDIA
GREEN INDIA
MAKE IN INDIA
BUT WHERE IS CHILDREN’S INDIA MR. FM?

*Enakshi Ganguly Thukral, Bharti Ali & Farhana Yasmin authored “Budget for Children Analysis” prepared by Delhi based HAQ’s Centre for Child Rights based in Delhi, India