Education, health needed more funds

Education, health needed more funds

While Karnataka’s budget for 2020-21 does not inspire confidence, what is most disappointing is that Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa has fallen into the usual trap of spending on populist schemes and loan waivers instead of investing on core sectors like education and healthcare, which could immensely benefit the state in the long run. The allotment for education is just 11% of the budget, while for health and family welfare it is even worse at a mere 4%. While the allotment for education in the Union Budget saw a small increase this year, it still constitutes only 4.6% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), as against the Niti Aayog’s target of 6%. The allocation for healthcare is in the range 1% of GDP compared to the 2.5% target set in the National Health Policy. Traditionally, India has invested much less funds on education and health, but Yediyurappa could have bucked the trend and presented a visionary budget.

Karnataka should have taken a leaf out of Delhi which in its 2019-20 budget allotted 27.8% to education and 13.8% to health. Investing on education is extremely critical as 50% of India’s population is below 25 years of age. Sadly, according to the IMD World Talent Ranking report, India has slipped six places to rank 59 on a global annual list of 63 countries due to the low quality of life and expenditure on education. The report which slams the poor quality of education and low pupil-teacher ratio, says the country’s public spending on education is not enough to either attract foreign talent or develop indigenous top brains. In the health sector, with even countries like Maldives, Sri Lanka, Bhutan and Thailand spending higher than India, it would be wise to take the views of the World Economic Forum seriously. The Forum has said, “Investing in the health system not only saves lives, it is also a crucial investment in the wider economy. This is because ill-health impairs productivity, hinders job prospects and adversely affects human capital development.”

While free public education is a fundamental right, in reality, private institutions have turned the sector into a multi-million rupee profit industry. Similarly, 70% of the healthcare expenditure is borne by the individual consumer, with the per capita spends by the government being among the lowest in the world. Unless the government invests heavily on education and healthcare, the growing youth population will turn out to be a liability instead of an asset. By neglecting both these vital sectors, Yediyrurappa has lost a golden opportunity to project himself as a statesman and a futuristic chief minister.

 

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