“We owe our children, the most vulnerable citizens in our society, a life free of violence and fear.”- Nelson Mandela
Currently, India is one of the youngest countries in the world. We have the highest child population and thus, it’s inevitable that we cater to the needs of the children in our country. As our union budget was declared, we got curious to see what’s in store for our young brigade for 2018-19.
The union budget allocated 3.24% of financial resources for children out of the total budget, which is a .08% decline from 2017-18. It is seen that since 2014-15 there has been a steady decline in resource allocation for children. This is in contrast with the fact that children make up roughly 40% of the population. In the 2018-19 Budget for Children (BfC) a total of 79088.35cr was received, out of which Child Education received the highest resources (69.47%), followed by child development (25.15%) and child health (3.90%). Child protection received the least amount of resources – 1.48% (1168.16cr).
- Overall Allocation for health and education has increased from 3 to 4 percent from the previous year.
- The world’s biggest health protection scheme, the National Nutrition Mission got a boost of 2928.7 cr. which would cover 10cr. poor families.
- ICDS (Integrated Child Development Scheme) or “Aanganwadi”, was given a 7% increment in financial resources.
- Eklavya Model Residential Schools,, to be started for scheduled tribe populations, received Rs. 1 Lakh crore to be implemented over the next 4 years in order to provide better education, infrastructure, training in sports and skill development and preserve tribal culture.
- The allocation for the National Crèche Scheme was reduced from 200 cr. to 65 cr. The scheme now only covers organized sectors, which means that women from unorganized sectors may have to make a choice between their child’s safety and work.
- The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) received a reduced budget this year. NCPCR works for child rights in terms of creating data and awareness, reviewing child policies and laws such as the Juvenile Justice Act and Protection Of Children from Sexual Offences Act and monitors and oversees implementation of critical child-related legislation.
- The budget for the National Child Labour Project was cut down by 25% and the scheme for welfare of working children in need of care and protection witnessed a 99.5% reduction.
- The budget allocation for integrated child protection scheme (ICPS) was increased by 11.9%. However, the “rationalization” of ICPS under the ICDS umbrella has diluted the efforts towards child protection as the ICDS staff will be burdened with additional responsibilities of child protection services.
Why should this concern us?
Crimes against children have increased by 13.6% in the past 3 years and cases of child sexual abuse were the second highest out of all the child crime cases at 34.4%. There are talks about child rights and child safety, yet the budget for children shows a downward trend year after year. In recent times we have come across numerous cases of child abuse, sexual and otherwise. However, we feel that this budget may not be as effective in providing a safer environment for children.
One possible reason for the lack of allocation of resources for the children’s budget is that investing in children now will yield tangible results only after 10-15 years. It saddens us that in such a scenario, safety and protection of children in India may not receive the support it so desperately needs. The reduction of resources to already vulnerable children such as, those in streets, shelters and under the care of the state such as juveniles, may compromise their security further. Considering that there is such a high crime rate against children and lower conviction rates for these crimes, non profits working in the sectors have a hard time garnering the necessary resources to combat an issue of this magnitude.
The small silver lining is that there is an increase in allocation for child protection schemes this year. However, it’s still only 0.84% of the union budget. Considering that these children are the future, we need to make sure that they are at their best mental and physical health to contribute to our country when they are adults.
Unfortunately, what we have learned is that our budget isn’t attending enough to the dire security needs of the children in our country. We hope that the future budgets are more conducive to child protection by using the existing services to their optimum capacities.
 UNFPA, “The Power of 1.8 Billion: Adolescents, Youth and the Transformation of the Future”, State of World Population, 2014 CRY- Child Rights and You. (2018, 2). A Quick Analysis Of What Is In Store For Children In Union Budget 2018-19. Retrieved 3 24, 2018, from Youth Ki Awaaz: https://www.youthkiawaaz.com/2018/02/what-budget-2018-means-for-children/ HAQ Centre for Child Rights. (2018). Budget for Children in #NewIndia. New Delhi: HAQ Centre for Child Rights. National Crime Records Bureau. (2016). Crime in India. Ministry of Home Affairs . New Delhi: Ministry of Home Affairs.