Children in the country received the lowest share of allocation in the Budget in 11 years, according to an analysis by the NGO, HAQ-Centre for Child Rights.
The total allocation for children in Union Budget 2023 is ₹92,736.5 crore, against an allocation of ₹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, which is a reduction of 0.11 percentage points from this fiscal, says HAQ. This is the lowest share children have received in the last 11 years.
The allocation for child health has decreased by 6.08%. It has dropped from ₹3,727.57 crore in 2021-2022 to ₹3,501.11 crore for the next fiscal. One of the most important child health schemes, the NRHM-RCH Flexi Pool, has observed a reduced allocation of 8.22% at ₹3,174.57 crore in the Union Budget 2022-23.
As far as child development programmes are concerned, they have seen a drop of 10.97% in allocation for the next fiscal at ₹17,826.03 crore. These include supplementary nutrition and anganwadi (day care) services.
The share of child education in the overall Union Budget 2022-23 has witnessed only a marginal increase of 0.3 percentage points from 1.74% in the current fiscal to 1.73% for the next fiscal. However, in absolute terms, the allocation has increased by 15.04% with ₹69,835.72 set aside, notes HAQ.
Though the Finance Minister announced a ‘One class, one TV channel’ programme from 12 to 200 TV channels to enable States to provide supplementary education in regional languages for Classes 1 to 12, studies have shown this is a difficult mode of learning for children.
Schemes for the protection and welfare of children clubbed under the Mission Vatsalaya of the Ministry of Women and Children received ₹1,472.17 crore. This is 65% more than this fiscal, but below the allocation of ₹15,000 crore in 2019-2020, before the scheme was restructured.