“The government had the potential to introduce a different dimension to the whole issue, but sadly, I cannot find that here.”

Siddaramaiahs peoples budget fails to deliver on policies for womens safety say activists
news Karnataka Budget Wednesday, March 15, 2017 - 19:40

"There will be no darkness in a state which promotes the development of women. In my experience it is true," declared Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, while delivering the Budget presentation on Wednesday.

The Congress government, that is in the last lap of its 5-year-term, will "endeavour to move towards creating gender equality," the CM assured.

When Siddaramaiah walked into Vidhan Soudha a little past 11 am, there was considerable confidence in the way the 68-year-old leader presented himself. After all, the Congress leader was presenting his 12th budget and critics attributed his confidence to this.

The Karnataka government's budget was crucial in more ways than one, for this was the government's last chance to dole out welfare schemes ahead of the Assembly elections scheduled in 2018.

"For the common man & woman,the farmer, the student, the entrepreneur, the youth #JanaparaBudget is a Budget for all people of a thriving Karnataka," CM Siddaramaiah tweeted hours before the budget session began.

But is the budget really inclusive in terms of the policies for women?

Bengaluru-based women's rights activist Brinda Adige says an emphatic no. She feels that the government has failed to take the mandate of women's safety seriously.

"Sadly, the budget has failed to make any special mention for the safety of women. We have seen an allocation that has been made for the entire women and child welfare department, but there is no mention or inclusion of any new activity or programme that would enhance or add to the available systems that are in place for the protection of women," Adige says.

Commenting on the state government's scheme to start 10 working women’s hostels at a cost of Rs 2 crore in Bengaluru, Adige says, "The majority of the skill development programmes of the government are in the city and it is a positive move that it encourages women from rural areas to move to the city and for them, you need place to stay. But it does not add to the safety of women, for we have been coming across cases in which women living in hostel accommodations were victims of crime.”

“The government had the potential to introduce a different dimension to the whole issue, but sadly, I cannot find that here," she adds.

Despite having examples such as the neighboring state of Kerala, Karnataka budget is "disappointing" in terms of policies for women, Adige says.

"Kerala recently announced the setting up of sex offenders' registry. But what has Karnataka learned from it? There are limitations and gaps in our policies, but the government does not seem to have addressed those. Scope for improvement arises when one admits that there are gaps. The government appears to be telling people that it cannot identify these gaps, and if at all it does, then it is not ready to acknowledge them," Adige says.

One of the other promises made by the CM was to fight crimes against women and children through technology based police accessories and mobile applications.

K S Vimala, general secretary (Karnataka) of All India Democratic Women's Association (AIDWA) slammed the Siddaramaiah government for "trying to solve safety issues through mobile applications rather than concrete actions."

"If the government has to ensure the safety of women, it is ridiculous that it has to do so through mobile applications. Why were there no concrete measures to at least begin to address this concern? Fast track courts could have been set up, training programmes could have been given to women through women and child development, there are many more things the government should have addressed. But it has failed to do so, apart from a few mentions here and there. This budget is not populist in any manner," Vimala says.

Main highlights from the budget

1) To fight crime against women and children, technology based police accessories and downloadable apps will be introduced.

2) Separate toilet facilities will be provided for lady staff in all the police stations in the state.

3) Rs 10 crore allocation for strengthening basic infrastructure for women in police training schools.

4) 10 working women hostels to be opened at a cost of Rs 2 crore each in Bengaluru and other Corporation areas.

5) Distribution of loan at 0% interest to women SHGs through co-operative societies

6) Enhancement in the limits of loan advanced to women entrepreneurs by KSFC @ 4 % interest rate, from Rs 50 lakhs to Rs 2 crores. Setting up of separate Business Incubator for women entrepreneurs.

7) Provision of SOS button and tracking in the BMTC Mobile application to ensure women’s safety.

8) Saviruchi canteens to be set up in every district, to be run by women SHGs.

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