Press Esc to close
Thursday 30 March 2017
News updated at 8:48 PM IST

Social sector gets lip service

Avani Kapur, Mar 01, 2016,
Workers carry documents of Union Budget 2016-17 ahead of its presentation at the Parliament House in New Delhi on Monday. PTI
This year’s Budget speech began with a vision to ‘transform India’ through nine distinct pillars. The third pillar spoke about on the social sector including healthcare. However, a deeper look at numbers suggests a tinkering around the edges without substantial reform.

But first, the good news. Social sector programs have long needed reform.

Restructuring Centrally Sponsored Schemes (CSS) into 30 by grouping schemes into “Missions” such as the National Education Mission (NEM), the removal of artificial distinctions between plan and non-plan, emphasis on outcome orientation, are important first steps. This year’s revised estimates being equal or above budget estimates is again a positive sign given the history of low releases and expenditures. However, budget announcements don’t always translate to action. The devil will lie in these details – which, naturally, the budget speech is not the best medium to articulate.

However, the Budget is about priorities, and funding commitments: so let’s look at the numbers. The speech referred to education, health and sanitation as key areas. However, a comparison of this year’s estimates with revised estimates for 2015-16 suggests modest increases. For example, the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan budget increased by 2 per cent, the Midday meal scheme by 5 per cent and the National Health Mission by 2 per cent. Despite outlining the importance of Swachh Bharat, allocations increased only 1 per cent compared to the supplementary budgets which had been passed during 2015-16. This year has been one of rural distress and thus there were high expectation of increases in MGNREGS. The increase of Rs. 1500 crores or 4 per cent is likely to be insufficient, especially given large liabilities of payments at over Rs 6,000 crore.

The speech instead focused on universal provision of subsidies, health insurance and skill development, while remaining silent on major social sector programs. The finance minister’s numbers in the Budget, unfortunately, don’t live up to his vision of the social sector as a pillar to transform India.

(With assistance from Vikram Srinivas)

Avani Kapur is Senior Researcher and program analyst at CPR’s Accountability Initiative

Go to Top

Photo Gallery
People  are purchasing Mango leaves and Neem leaves on the eve of Ugadi festival ...

People are purchasing Mango leaves and Neem leaves on the eve of Ugadi festival ...

A group of Marathi women, dressed in traditional attires, with placards displaying...

A group of Marathi women, dressed in traditional attires, with placards displaying...

Yakult's new brand ambassador and Bollywood actor Shilpa Shetty at a promotional event...

Yakult's new brand ambassador and Bollywood actor Shilpa Shetty at a promotional event...

King of fruits mango has arrived for sale at Eidgah Maidan near Channamma Circle in Hubballi...

King of fruits mango has arrived for sale at Eidgah Maidan near Channamma Circle in Hubballi...

Children with flowers, neem leaves and jaggery all set to welcome the New Year...

Children with flowers, neem leaves and jaggery all set to welcome the New Year...

Roads wear deserted look on Tuesday as temperature soars in Surat...

Roads wear deserted look on Tuesday as temperature soars in Surat...

Security forces chasing away local protesters who tried to disrupt an anti-militant operation...

Security forces chasing away local protesters who tried to disrupt an anti-militant operation...

Smoke billowing out of the house which was targeted by the security forces personnel for...

Smoke billowing out of the house which was targeted by the security forces personnel for...

A man carries schoolchildren on his bicycle on a road in Srinagar, India...

A man carries schoolchildren on his bicycle on a road in Srinagar, India...

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, foreground, speaks to press in a court room in Moscow....

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, foreground, speaks to press in a court room in Moscow....

Like us on Facebook

Copyright 2017, The Printers (Mysore) Private Ltd., 75, M.G Road, Post Box 5331, Bengaluru - 560001
Tel: +91 (80) 25880000 Fax No. +91 (80) 25880523