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Where are Children in the Indian budget?

Mar 11, 2015

Programmes that address equity, inclusive development and underpin the development of a strong, capable and peaceful nation have all been subjected to drastic budget cuts, stated Child Rights Activists working across a broad spectrum of issues that affect children.

Arun Gupta

New Delhi: Networks, Alliances, and Campaigns working with children of economically weak and marginalized sections on issues of health, education, nutrition and malnutrition, protection and early childhood development, expressed their deep disappointment and shock at the massive cuts that have been made in Budget 2015-16 in these sectors.

Explaining the falling share in the Budget, Child Rights Activists pointed out that in 2007, Statement 22 was introduced in the Budget giving recognition to the importance of committing to a Budget for Children by listing out the schemes and programs for children.

In stark contrast, “there has been a 29% cut in the Budget for Children this year. It now stands at an abysmal 3% of the entire budget”, said Enakshi Ganguly, HAQ: Centre for Child Rights. “All flagship programmes of the government like SSA, Midday Meals, ICDS, and health related schemes, as well as allocations to the key ministries that implement them, stand severely cut,” she added

The cuts are as follows:

Ministry and the respective Percentage Fall in Allocation (between 20014-15 and 2015-16)

Ministry of Human Resource Development   -17%

Ministry of Women and Child Development  -51%

Ministry of Family and Health Welfare   -13%

Scheme and the respective 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

Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) -54.19

Deendayal Disabled Rehabilitation Scheme 33.33

Manufacture of Sera Vaccine -18.03

NRHM-RCH Flexible Pool  21.63

National Programme for Youth and Development -28.75

Scheme for prevention of Alcoholism and substance(drug) abuse -66.81

Dr Vandana Prasad, Pediatrician, Working Group of Children Under Six, speaking of the cut backs in all significant nutrition related schemes - 54 % cut in the ICDS budget, 30% in Midday Meals and the short shrift to Health said, “India is home to the highest number of children with hunger and Malnutrition, despite this, it does not appear that the Government is serious about tackling the scourge of malnutrition.” This Budget will have severe repercussions on children’s health, she pointed out.  “As for universalizing ICDS as per the Supreme Court Order in the Right to Food Case, is there no obligation to implement that?” she queried.

Taking this forward, Devika Singh, Alliance for the Right to ECD stated that: “Urgently needed reforms had been put in place for ICDS and a Comprehensive Policy for Early Childhood has been finally drawn up, focusing on the under two’s, early learning, much needed safety arrangements and quality norms, amongst others. Will all that now stand abandoned in the absence of funds,” she asked.

“You are investing in Smart cities; cities will be smart only if its children are smart as they grow into smart human beings. Invest in the youngest child to give them a head start,” said Dr. Arun Gupta, Breastfeeding Promotion Network.

Speaking on behalf of Dalit communities,  Bina Pallical, NCDHR,  emphasized that the Budget definitely does not reflect any intention of equitable sharing of national resources across all communities .She went on to point out that the “cuts in Schemes like SSA, MDM and RMSA directly impact the Dalit , Adivasis,  and Minority Groups,   as  they all fare badly with regard to rates of malnutrition, school drop outs, mortality and morbidity and  in the case of Higher Education, major funds have also been deducted for SC/STs in IITs, NITs and IIMs.” She asked pointedly as to “Where does that leave them?  Where is the promise of inclusive development?” she queried.

Scheme and the respective  percentage fall in allocation

Pre-Matric Scholarship of Minorities -5.45

Post -Matric Scholarship for Minorities -3.07

Upgradation of merit of SC Students -20.41

Incentives to children of vulnerable groups among SC -75

“On the issue of Right to Education, the ground reality is stark – inadequate teachers, poor infrastructure, poor quality of education reflected in poor learning outcomes. The Budget has prioritized buildings over human resources. How will the learning outcomes be improved?” asked Ambarish Rai, Right to Education Forum.

“Child protection is an area of disgraceful inattention, with little thought of anticipatring and preventing risks,” said Razia Ismail of India Alliance for Child Rights. “Unskilled response with miserly resources is not the answer”. The issue of protection has been virtually bypassed, even though the tiny allocation proposed for the Integrated Child Protection Scheme(ICPS) and for implementing the JJ Act has inched up from the Rs 400 crores of 2014-15 to Rs 402.23 crore in the current proposal. The budget does not address the unsafe character of childhood in India.

The future of India’s children indeed remains bleak.

Press Conference was organized by the following national level networks:

HAQ Centre for Child Rights

Working Group for Children under Six

India Alliance for Child Rights

Forum for Crèches and Childcare Services


RTE Forum


Breastfeeding Promotion Network of India

Alliance for Right to Early Childhood Development

CBGA (technical support)

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