Missed opportunity to opportunity of employment-centred and inclusive growth

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Pradhan Mantri Poshan Shakti Nirman

Mains level : Paper 2- Low allocation for social sector

Context

India continues to rank poorly in various global indices that reflect the quality of life, human capital or human development in the country. In this context, it was expected that the current Budget would see an expansion in government spending on the social sector.

Need for greater spending on social sector

  • In Human Development Index, India ranks 131 out of 189 countries and on the Global Hunger Index, it ranks 101 out of 116 countries.
  • The pandemic over the last two years has had a severe impact on the health, education and food security of the poor and informal sector workers.
  • The country has been experiencing increasing inequality over the last couple of decades.

Marginal increase in allocation for school education

  • In the budget, the government announced that it will expand its ‘one class, oneTVchannel’ scheme instead of announcing enhanced allocations for schools  the government announced that it will expand its ‘one class, oneTVchannel’ scheme instead of announcing enhanced allocations for schools so that they can reopen with vigour.
  •  The budget for school education at ₹63,449 crore is a slight improvement over last year’s ₹54,873 crore (2021-22 budget estimates, BE) and a mere increase of 6% in nominal terms compared to 2020-21 BE of ₹59,845 crore.
  • After rechristening the school mid-day meal scheme as Pradhan Mantri Poshan Shakti Nirman, simply called PM Poshan, the allocation for the scheme has reduced from ₹11,500 crore last year to ₹10,233 crore this year.

Low allocation for health

  • Despite repeated statements about strengthening the public health system, the overall budget for the Department of Health and Family Welfare at ₹83,000 crore has gone up by only 16% over the BE for 2021-22 and by less than ₹1,000 crore compared to the RE for 2021-22, which is ₹82,921 crore.
  • However, by including water and sanitation in the budget for health, there is an increase being shown in health spending as a proportion of GDP.
  • Also, even though the budget for the Jal Jeevan Mission has increased from ₹50,000 crore to ₹60,000 crore, only 44% of the allocated funds to the Department of Water and Sanitation for 2021-22 has been spent as on end December 2021.

No indication of plan to extend the PMGKAY

  • 60% of the population are covered by ration cards currently under the National Food Security Act.
  • Those who were eligible benefited from the additional free foodgrains that they have been given under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Anna Yojana (PMGKAY).
  • However, the food subsidy (BE) for 2022-23 at ₹2.06 lakh crore is only enough to cover the regular NFSA entitlements.
  • The indication is that there is no plan to extend the PMGKAY.
  • The food subsidy RE for 2021-22 is ₹2.86 lakh crore.

Other schemes

  • Budgets for important schemes such as Saksham Anganwadi, maternity entitlements and social security pensions are around the same as the allocations for last year.
  • The allocation for MGNREGA at ₹73,000 crore also does not reflect the increased demand for work or thethe pending wages of ₹21,000 crore.

Continued negligence

  • The resources allocated for crucial government schemes in the fields of health, education, nutrition, and social protection have remained stagnant or show negligent increase.
  • In fact, the budgets for these schemes have been declining in real terms since 2015.
  • The World Social Protection Report 2020-22, brought out by the International Labour Organization, shows that the spending on social protection (excluding health) in India is 1.4% of the GDP, while the average for low-middle income countries is 2.5%.

Conclusion

This continued negligence does not bode well for inclusive development in India.

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