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Share of Children in Budget 2022-23

  • 25 Feb 2022
  • 8 min read

For Prelims: Poshan 2.0, PM eVIDYA, 'One class, one TV channel' programme, Integrated Child Development Schemes, Findings of NFHS 5 survey.

For Mains: State of Children in India and need to address the issues related to them, Steps taken by governments in this direction.

Why in News?

According to an analysis by a NGO, Children in the country received the lowest share of allocation in the Budget in 11 years.

  • Budgeting for children by the Union Government had started as early as 2008 with the publication of the first-ever Child Budget Statement. Subsequently, several states have also initiated the practice.

What is in the Budget for the Children?

  • About:
    • The total allocation for children in Union Budget 2023 is Rs. 92,736.5 crore, against an allocation of Rs. 85,712.56 crore in the last Budget.
      • Though this is an increase of 8.19% in absolute terms, it’s not proportionate to the increase in the total expenditure in the Union Budget.
      • The share of the Budget for children is a meagre 2.35% of the Union Budget for the next fiscal (2022-23), which is a reduction of 0.11%, which is the lowest share children have received in the last 11 years.
  • Sector-wise Analysis:
    • For Child health:
      • The allocation for child health has decreased by 6.08%.
      • One of the most important child health schemes, the NRHM-RCH Flexi Pool, has observed a reduced allocation of 8.22%.
        • This flexipool addresses the needs of health systems strengthening and Reproductive, Maternal, Newborn, Child and Adolescent Health (RMNCH+A) of the States.
    • For Child Development Programme:
      • They have seen a drop of 10.97% in allocation for the next fiscal at R.17,826.03 crore. These include supplementary nutrition and anganwadi (day care) services.
        • Schemes for children such as Poshan 2.0, which provide integrated benefits to women and children, did not get any additional funds this year.
        • In 2022-23, an estimated budget of Rs 10,234 crore has been sanctioned to the Pradhan Matri Poshan Shakti Nirman (PM POSHAN) programme. Last year, the revised estimate was Rs 10,234 crore.
          • This scheme was earlier known as the ‘National Program of Midday Meal in Schools’ and provided hot cooked meals to school children between the ages of 6 and 14 years.
    • For Child Education:
      • The share of child education has witnessed only a marginal increase of 0.3% points from 1.74% in the current fiscal to 1.73% for the next fiscal.
      • A 'One class, one TV channel' programme announced in the budget is a difficult mode of learning for children.
        • The 'One class, one TV channel' programme of PM eVIDYA will be expanded from 12 to 200 TV channels.
    • For Protection and Welfare of Children:
      • Schemes for the protection and welfare of children clubbed under the Mission Vatsalaya of the Ministry of Women and Children received Rs. 1,472.17 crore.
        • This is 65% more than this fiscal, but below the allocation of Rs. 15,000 crore in 2019-2020, before the scheme was restructured.

What are the issues with the Budgeting for Children?

  • Mere Annual Accounting Exercise:
    • Budgeting for children by the Union Government has remained limited to being a mere annual accounting exercise culminating in the publication of the Child Budget Statement (CBS) by simply collating relevant budget heads across departments.
      • This alone does little to address the core objective of remaining responsive to the special needs of children.
  • Lack of Responsibility from State Governments:
    • State Governments, being mainly responsible for implementing many of the critical schemes for children, play an important role in taking this exercise forward.
      • But even for them, it has mostly been perceived as an accounting responsibility rather than as a tool to plan and execute interventions for children more effectively.
  • Lack of Standardisation:
    • Moreover, there is a lack of standardisation of norms among government entities for reporting in their respective Child Budget Statement (CBS).

What about the State of Children in India?

  • NHFS-5 Findings: The recent NFHS 5 survey has revealed a mixed picture on child health and nutrition.
    • On one hand there are definite positives like reduction in child mortality rates, improvements in the levels of nutrition indicators like stunting and wasting etc.
    • On the other hand, incidents of anemia among children have gone up from 58.6% in NFHS 4 to an alarming level of 67.1% in this round, leading experts to point out that more efforts are needed for meeting the 2030 SDG targets.
  • ASER Surveys Findings:
    • The consecutive ASER surveys have pointed out that there has been no improvement in the proportion of children currently not enrolled in school between 2020 and 2021 and there exists a lot of variability among the states in this regard.
  • Impact of Covid-19:
    • Covid-19 has impacted children in diverse ways – be it physical, emotional, cognitive, or social repercussions, including transition or migration, familial crises, isolation from friends, discontinuity of learning, environment, quarantine, hospitalisation of self or family members, and entry into adult roles of work or marriage.
    • Consequently, the lives of India’s children were severely restricted in terms of their access to education, nutrition and development, and child protection.

Way Forward

  • Orientation of the government officials working on child-related interventions through capacity building programmes is important, not only for reporting in the CBS but also for enabling them to redesign schemes better and monitor the progress on a regular basis.
  • An outcome orientation of the budget for children is essential for translating the outlays into better outcomes.
  • There is an urgent need to standardise the reporting structure in the CBS and the Union Government can develop a detailed framework for it in consultation with states and domain experts to make CBS an effective instrument of accountability as well.
  • Regular monitoring and audits of relevant child related schemes must be taken up by the respective ministries.

Source: TH

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