This is a blog published by Population First as part of its communication and advocacy efforts. Through "Laadli Oh Meri Laadli" we plan to reach out to a number of people from media and other sectors. The aim is to create a platform for sharing of information, discussions and exchange of views on issues relating to gender and social development.
Railway Budget and the Union Budget for financial year 2016-17 were presented
on 25-2-2016 and 29-2-2016 respectively.The Union Budget 2016-17 has allocated Rs. 90625
crores for gender concerns in different ministries. But it does not show any
increase in the “Gender budget” i.e. financial allocation that directly
benefits women and girls with budget allocation of 4.58% of the total. The revised estimate in the Union Budget for 2015-16
is 4.55 per cent of the total allocations and the financial allocations to the
Ministry of Women and Child Development (MWCD) were slashed from Rs. 21194
crores toRs. 10382 crores. Due to pressure from the MWCD, the revise
budget was increased to Rs. 17352 crores. The current budget has made financial
allocation of Rs. 17408 crores to MWCD.
Union Budget allocates Rs. 2000 crores to provide the BPL families with a
cooking gas connection at a subsidized rate so that poor women will not have to
use Chulha for cooking resulting into inhalation of carbon monoxide, major
cause of their respiratory tract infections. Gender economists have demanded
that the LPG connection must be in the name of women members of poor
households. The timeline given by the FM
state that during 2016-17, crore 50 lakh BPL (Below Poverty Line) households.
The budget also promises to continue the Scheme for at least two more years to
cover a total of 5 crore BPL households. This scheme may be boon to ‘neo-middle
class’ but majority of the toiling poor womencannot afford to buy ‘subsidized’ cooking gas @ Rs. 6000/- per cylinder.
Predicament of women Farmers
Women farmers and cultivators are the backbone of agricultural production
in India. Majority of agricultural labourers are women. In agricultural sector also the allocation at
Rs 20400 crores is lower as compared to the 2014-15 in which the allocation was
Rs 22309 crores. The current budget makes a non-plan allocation of Rs.15000
crores to the Ministry of Agriculture to transfer funds to compensate commercial
banks for providing subsidised credit to agriculture.
The budget permits 100 per cent FDI in rural markets. This will
women small and marginal farmers hard. Entry of corporate sector into agrarian
marketing has already made condition of farmers precarious as a result of their
monopsonistic control where large number of poor sellers face handful of buyers.
Desperate farmers will have to distress selling of their products to the
Several states in our country are facing severe drought resulting
into agrarian unemployment.In this
context, increase of MGNAREGA allocation by 7.7% is highly inadequate.
Stand Up India Scheme
Union Budget has provided an outlay of Rs. 500 crores to promote
entrepreneurship among SC/ST and women. Each nationlised bank will have to facilitate
at least two projects per bank branch, one for SC/ST and one for women
entrepreneur. This schemes claims to benefit at least 2.5 lakh SC/ST/ women entrepreneurs.
Quarterly social audit is a must for this scheme or else like ‘Nirbhaya fund’,
this allocation will also remain unspent.
the Railway Budget has promised a 33% sub-quota for women under all reserved
categories, was provided. Looking at increasing attacks on women commuters, the
railways need to allocate more funds for security and safety of women on the
railway platforms and in the trains.
National Mission for Empowerment of
Gender Budget Statement has increased MNEW’s allocation to 50 crores which is
double as compared to previous year. The budget has not taken serous
consideration with respect to violence against women that has escalated many
fold. While schemes to combat trafficking and empowering adolescent girls have received
increased funds, the schemes meant for implementation of PCPNDT act, the Protection
of Women from Domestic Violence Act have not received much allocation. Corpus
of Rs. 3000 crores under Nirbhaya Fund has largely remained unutilized. On
March 8, 2016, the Union Budget 2015-16 had allocated Rs. 653 for Scheme for
Safety of Women in Public Road Transport with an objective to ensure safety of
women and girl child in public transport by monitoring location of public road
transport vehicles to provide immediate assistance in minimum response time to
the victims in distress. The proposed scheme under the “Nirbhaya Fund”
envisages setting up of a National Emergency Response System with a control
room under the overall control of Ministry of Home Affairs, which will receive
alerts from distressed women and take action on it. Under the scheme for giving
grants to states for setting up driving schools, preference is given to
proposals for driving school for women.Similarly,
‘Beti Padhao, Beti Bachao’ scheme was announced with the goal of improving
efficiency in delivery services for women. Proposal submitted by
different ministries, local self government bodies and state governments under
these schemes are gathering dust and funds have remained largely unutilized.
Subsidised education and health are most
beneficial to women and girls. The Union Budget, 2016-17 provides Rs. 40000
crores for school education which is slightly higher than last year’s
allocation of Rs. 39039 crores and higher education has received Rs 16500
crores this year as compared to from Rs. 15855 crores. Both are grossly
inadequate. This will result into intensification of privatisation and
commercialization of school and higher education.
The same is happening
with respect to health sector- withdrawal of the state from public health to
promotion of private health sector. Except for 3000 stores for distribution of
subsidized medicine, the budget subsidizes private insurance companies and
pharmaceutical industries in the name of public –private partnership.
Flagship programme such as Integrated Child Development centre (ICDS),
like last year, has faced cuts in allocations. In 2015-16 the budgetary
allocation was merely Rs 8000 crores but the actual disbursement of funds was
Rs. 15394 crores.Nutrition of pregnant
mothers and children in 0-6 age group will suffer as the Union Budget 2016-17
allocates only Rs.14000 crores. Even the Mid Day Meal Programme will also face
financial crunch as the allocation is merely Rs. 9700 crores, while
inflationary prices of food items have increased drastically. In spite of
increase in workload, the foot soldiers of ICDS and National
Rural Health Mission (NRHM) don’t even get minimum wages; leave aside pension,
social security benefits and health insurance.
Instead of direct distribution of food grains
and essential items, the budget paves way for cash transfer in PDS through provision
of automation facilities for 3 lakh Fair Price Shops, ATMs and mini-ATMs in
rural linked to Adhar. The budget does not promise of price control for
essential commodities to ease poor women’s woes.
analysis of allocation to social sector in the pre (before 1991) and post
(after 1991) structural Adjustment Programme (SAP) phase has revealed that poor
women have suffered the most due to drastic budgetary cuts in Public
Distribution System and public health, safe public transport & child care
facilities, food security, drinking water and sanitation. There is no gender
mainstreaming with respect to safety of women in the budgets of Local Self
The Union Budget promises a lot thro’ digital India
scheme but there is no financial allocation for specific programmes and schemes
for digital empowerment of girls and women.
The Union Budget, 2016-17 has given priority to
formation of 100 smart cities in terms of high allocation for physical infrastructure,
IT based and cyber technology based governance. Smart cities have to be Safe
cities. Town planners, policy makers and budget experts need to do gender
budgeting to ensure women-friendly civic infrastructure- water, sanitation,
health care, safe transport, public toilets, help lines, skill development for
crisis management and, safety at work place. While making budgets for social
defense services, consideration must be given to safety of girls and women in
schools and colleges in terms of prevention of child sexual abuse through
public education and counseling facilities, separate toilets for girls and boys
in schools, legal literacy on POCSO Act, 2012 and Prevention of Sexual
Harassment Workplace Act, 2013. Provision must be made to have special cells in
the police department to take action against display of pornographic images,
SMS messages, cybercrimes that victimize young girls at public places or in
public transport- buses, local trains, rickshaws and taxis.
There is need to integrate safety of
women as a major concern in flagship centrally sponsored schemes such as
Jawahar Lal Nehru Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM), PMSSY, NUHM are supposed to
have 30% of funds as Women’s Component.
state governments have sent GR regarding allocation of 5% of total revenues for
women and children. This should be increased to 10%. Kerala has done this.
Moreover, urban local self-government (LSGs) bodies can raise revenues by heavy
taxes on Tobacco, alcohol, private vehicles and entertainment industry. Some
amount of fine collected for causing damage to environment (introduction of
Green Tax), high speed driving, wrong parking and breaking rules can also be
used for welfare of women and children. Surcharge, earmarked charge for
specific purpose such as Education Cess-2 % of salary, income tax for disaster
management has raised revenues for urban LSG. In Maharashtra, transport cess at
the time of Bangladesh war in 1971, later on was diverted to EGS kitty.
Sponsored Schemes are meant to have national focus on poverty alleviation or
welfare. Fund sharing pattern between centre and state has changed from 75:25 from
60:40 and many poor states are not able to contribute their share, as a result
most of the anti-poverty progrmmes and flagship schemes are not fully
implemented or are totally non-implemented. By putting the onus on state
governments to provide for social sector, the Centre is washing off its hands
with respect to needs of SC, ST, women and minorities.
re-prioratisation of financial allocations by urban and rural
government bodies in favour of
•Working women’s hostels, crèches, cheap
eating facilities, public toilets
•Women friendly and SAFE public
transport- local trains, Metro, buses
•Housing- Subsidized housing for single/
deserted/ divorced/ widowed women
•Nutrition- Strengthening PDS and
nutritional mid-day meals
Abolition of user fees for BPL population, one stop crisis centre in public
hospital for women/girls survivors of violence linked with shelter homes
•Skill training centres for women and
tailor made courses
•Safe, efficient and cheap public
Transport-bus, train, metro
•Water- Safe drinking water in the
Management- Technological upgradation- Occupational health & safety of
recycling workers/rag pickers
•Proper electrification in the
Community centres, half way homes for elderly and mentally disturbed women.