BY SUMANTA KAR
Senior Deputy National Director of SOS Children’s Villages Of India
This is just the right budget for the welfare of women and children as the Finance Minister has focused on increasing household income of farmers; strengthening the healthcare infrastructure, and promoting women's participation in the workforce, which are some of the key enablers of an equitable and knowledge society.
Besides, the Budget has given the much-needed impetus to the implementation of the new National Education Policy. The attention to such key areas of development is crucial for every child to have the opportunity to grow into a contributing and responsible citizen.
In the wake of the pandemic-led disruptions the need for ensuring social security, protection of livelihoods, and creating economic opportunities for women, and youth cannot be overlooked or overstated.
Hence, it is heartening to see the importance this Budget has given to doubling farmers' income, and opportunities for youth to learn vocational skills and become either employable or turn into entrepreneurs. Rs 3000 crores is earmarked for this skilling initiative.
And for the first time, the government is spelling out social security benefits to gig and platform workers. A bold and commendable move is to set minimum wages for all categories of workers. Timely policy intervention is to allow women to work in night shifts with adequate protection and to simplify the compliance procedures in this regard. This will increase the participation of women in the workforce.
When these measures are implemented, the household income of many vulnerable families will increase - and the risk of the children of these families losing parental care will come down to that extent.
The Finance Minister has laid out a Rs 64,180 crore spending plan for healthcare over the next six years to strengthen primary, secondary and tertiary healthcare. The Budget envisages the setting up of about 17,000 rural and 11,000 urban health and wellness centres.
There will be integrated public health labs, the importance of which is profoundly felt during the pandemic, in each district. In addition, there will be over 3,380 block public health units across 11 states. Mission POSHAN 2.0 will strengthen nutritional content, delivery & outcome, as part of an intensified strategy for improving nutritional outcomes in women and children.
On the education front, we get the feeling that several laudable proposals of the new Education Policy are going to take off sooner than expected. The government has demonstrated its commitment to qualitatively strengthen over 15,000 schools. It is opening more Sainik Schools and about 750 Eklavya schools for the children of tribal communities.
Overall, Budget 2021 has left no stone unturned in making sure that societies prosper economically and afford opportunities for the children and the youth to realise their potential.