Compared to Rs 30K crore allocated to the Ministry of Women and Child Development in 2020-2021, this financial year, the allocation is down by 20%.

Nirmala Sitharaman in a mustard saree and black sweater siting on a chair
Money Budget 2021 Monday, February 01, 2021 - 18:24

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Monday tabled the Union Budget 2021-22 in the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic. While she did not make a specific mention of funds allocated for women-centric schemes as she had done in the last budget speech, budget documents reveal a cut in the funds allocated for the Ministry of Women and Child Development (WCD).

In FY 2022, Rs 24,435 crore has been allocated to the WCD Ministry. This is slashed from Budget 2020-21, where in the speech, Sitharaman had also announced that Rs 28,000 crore for women-centric schemes, and Rs 30,000 crore had been set aside for the WCD Ministry. Further, of this Rs 30,000 crore, the Centre only spent only around Rs 21,000 crore last year.

Among autonomous bodies that come under the ministry, the Union government has slashed the budget of the National Institute of Public Cooperation and Child Development (NIPCCD) as well Central Adoption Resource Agency (CARA). NIPCCD’s budget has been reduced to Rs 60 crore from Rs 70 crore, while CARA’s budget has suffered a reduction of Rs 7 crore compared to last financial year, and in 2021-22, will have Rs 10 crore as its disposal. The Central Social Welfare Board has also had its budget slashed from Rs 80 crore to Rs 73 crore in FY 2021-22.

While the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights has been allocated Rs 18 crore – the same as last year – only the National Commission for Women’s budget has increased this year by a crore at Rs 27 crore.

This year's budget has clubbed several of the services of the WCD ministry under 'missions', not allocating individual corpuses for them. For instance, the Union government has set aside a corpus under the Sanksham Anganwadi and POSHAN 2.0 which includes anganwadi services, Poshan Abhiyan, Scheme for Adolescent Girls, National Creche Scheme. Rs 20,105 crore have been allocated under this in Union Budget 2021-22. Poshan 2.0 is now the umbrella scheme covering Integrated Child Development Services.

In her budget speech, Nirmala Sitharaman had announced, “To strengthen nutritional content, delivery, outreach, and outcome, we will merge the Supplementary Nutrition Programme and the Poshan Abhiyan and launch the Mission Poshan 2.0. We shall adopt an intensified strategy to improve nutritional outcomes across 112 aspirational districts.”

Child Protection Services that earlier came under Umbrella ICDS have now come under Mission Vatsalya, which also includes Child Welfare Services. Rs 900 crore have been allocated for Mission Vatsalya. However, this is a decrease from Rs 1,500 crore that was budgeted for Child Protection Services alone in FY 2021-22. Of this, last year, Rs 821 crore was actually disbursed by the Union government.

There have been several reports about the under-utilisation of the Nirbhaya Funds – in fact, in March 2020, a parliamentary panel had said that only around 36% of the fund had been utilised in the last seven years, since its inception. Last financial year, while the Union government allocated Rs 385 crore for one-stop centres that were covered under the Nirbhaya Fund, only Rs 170 crore was disbursed.

In FY 2021-22, the Union government has clubbed the budget for one-stop centres along with Mahila Police volunteers, women’s helpline, Ujjwala scheme, widow homes, and Swadhar under Sambal, which is a part of Mission Shakti i.e. Mission for Protection and Empowerment for Women. While Rs 587 crore have been proposed for Sambal, for Samarthya (also under Mission Shakti) – which covers Beti Bachao Beti Padhao, Creche, Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana, gender budgeting, research skilling, training etc. – Rs 2,522 has been allocated.

The Finance Minister mentioned the Ujjwala scheme in the budget speech as well and said that it will be extended to one crore more beneficiaries, having benefited eight crore households. The Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana provides concessional LPG connections in rural India, especially to women living below poverty line.

Overall, Mission Shakti has been allocated Rs 3,109 crore.

The allocation for social services under the WCD ministry has also gone down – from Rs 25,970 crore in 2020-21, to Rs 20,859 in the current financial year. In FY 2020-21, the Union government only spent Rs 18K crore out of the Rs 26K crore proposed. Under the social services, social security and welfare, nutrition, secretariat — social services, and grants-in-aid to states and Union Territories are covered, among other things. 

Read: Union Budget 2021: Govt slashes allocation for education by 6.13%

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