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Underprivileged children deserved more from Budget 2018-19 :: Thomas Chandy ( CEO, Save the Children )

New Delhi | February | 02, 2018 :: While several provisions for children were mentioned by the Finance Minister in his Budget Speech yesterday, much more was expected to reach “Every Last Child” to counter the inter-generational deprivations they continue to face. With India urbanizing at a very fast pace, Save the Children stresses that the urban deprived and, in particular, children in street situations also be included into the disadvantaged social groups with requisite support to them for education, nutrition and protection.

“While the Government kept issues of children at the core of the Union Budget 2018-19, the provisions to bring about positive change for children have been less than we expected,” says Thomas Chandy, CEO of Save the Children, and added, “Much more needs to be done for the welfare, development and protection of underprivileged children.”

Protection and safety of children are a cause of worry and there is an increase in reports of incidents involving children. India is changing with more children than ever before attending educational institutions under the RTE Act and other measures. Protection cover needs to be put on top priority. Therefore, it’s a concern to note that for the next financial year, the allocation on Child Protection as percentage share in the total Union Budget has declined to 0.047 per cent from 0.048 per cent in FY 2017-18. Share of education share is 2.25 per cent that is slightly lesser than previous year — but it is good to see the focus that has been brought by prioritizing tribal children and expanding the social protection cover to orphan and divyang. Child health has received 0.13 per cent of the total Union Budget, an increase of 0.01 percentage points from last year is welcoming and so for Child Development receiving 0.82 per cent of the Union Budget, a slight increase of 0.02 percentage points against the previous year.

Continuing school education:

The share of education within child budget has increased by 0.93 per cent but within the union budget it has reduced by 3.69 per cent. There has been enhanced budgets for Scheduled Tribes and scholarships for minorities, backward classes — largely at the post-matric level, while most of the drop outs happen at the elementary level itself. For scheduled castes, only pre-metric scholarships have increased by 150 per cent but even with a lot of concerns about girl’s education the share has reduced by 20.3 per cent.

Increased budget for flagship schemes is visible: SSA by 11.19 per cent, Mid-day Meal by 5 per cent and RMSA by 7.61 per cent will complement the scholarships for the most deprived children in government schools.

Nourished children and increased health services:

Increase by 216 per cent for National Nutrition Mission that includes ISSNIP will be address the persisting malnutrition children in India face. With multiple diversities the country has the actual challenge is also in designing its implementation to see the real impact.

Protecting girls and boys:

The overall budget in size has increased with National Child Labour project getting an increase of 12.55 per cent, ICPS by 11.8 per cent and Beti Bachao Beti Padao by 40 per cent. Rescue and rehabilitation efforts in the past clearly have emphasized on the need of budget increase given that 33 million children in India in the age group of 5 to 18 years are working as per Census 2011.

Save the Children works across 20 states of India and in 120 countries, on issues related to education, health, protection and humanitarian/DRR needs of children, especially for those who are the most deprived and marginalized. Save the Children’s s association with India is more than 80 years old.

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