Noting a “constant decline” in budgetary allocation for children amid malnourishment, child labour and lack of education, rights body CRY has advocated for an increased funding to ensure child welfare in the upcoming Union Budget.
Child Rights and You (CRY), a non-profit organisation, has also demanded the backing of child protection measures by a “financial memorandum”, to ensure proper implementation of schemes.
The Narendra Modi government is set to present its fourth Budget in the ensuing session of Parliament starting February 1. Stating that child labour from 2001 to 2011 has reduced at a “dismal rate” of 2.2 per cent, it claimed that the country is still housing 33 million children under the age of 18 in labour.
The number of crimes against children has increased by 500 per cent from 2005 to 2015, it added. The child rights body, based on its analysis of Census and budgets, said that out of every 100 children in the country, only 32 finish school education, age-appropriately.
“Even today, India is among the highest-ranking countries in the world for the number of children suffering from malnutrition, yet the, the budget allocation instead of increasing has been reduced by 9.6 per cent, from 15,584 crore (2015-16) to 14,862 crore (2016-17),” CRY chief executive officer Puja Marwaha said.
“Unfortunately, even after 70 years of Independence millions of children still don’t get to enjoy their basic rights. Our government’s intent to positively impact various indicators of child rights has been consistently evident in the slew of policy formulations as well as commitment to international ratifications,” she said.
Noting that Integrated Child Protection Scheme (ICPS) in itself has a “meagre allocation” of about 400 crore for over 600 districts of the country, she said, “It is rational to say that the change we have envisaged for our children evades us primarily because the inherent design of our schemes has been marred with gaps, which lends itself to challenges faced in their implementation.”
The CRY CEO said, “One of the most critical aspects determining the success of any policy is adequate budget dedicated to its implementation. None of the child protection laws is backed by a financial memorandum.
“While we dream to create an eco-system to safeguard the rights of every last child in the country, the lack of financial memorandum makes it a far-fetched reality.” The child population has increased from 450.5 million in 2001 to 472.1 million and children continue to constitute almost 40 per cent of the country, CRY said citing data. Total Child Budget as percentage of gross domestic product (GDP) gradually declined since 2011-12 and in the budget 2015-16 it stands at only 0.41 per cent.
Similarly, total Child Budget as percentage of total Union Budget shows a declining trend since 2012-13 and it stands at 3.32 per cent in Union Budget 2016-17.
Recalling that in the recent pre-budget consultation, Union Minister Arun Jaitley had emphasised on inclusive growth as high priority parallelling the increase of resources to social sector, especially for the vulnerable sections including children, she said, “While budgeting for 2017-18, we should factor that we are making investment plans for 410.6 million children of India.
“The stagnant 4 per cent investment in last fifteen years has not made any dent to improving the lives of children.” “While India is committed to achieving the sustainable development Goals (SDGs), its national and international obligations, it cannot do so if we get used to being content with achieving incremental change for our children,” Marwaha said, adding, “We need a paradigm shift in the way we look at our children. Our resources and policies have to be aligned to deliver better, more sustainable outcomes for children.”