Gender budgeting warrants special attention due to the vulnerability of women and lack of access to resource
There are plenty of expectations as the 2018-19 Budget is about to be presented. There are few sectors in particular that the government needs to accentuate more.
India is an agrarian economy. The agricultural sector is the backbone of the Indian Economy which provides employment to 48.9 per cent of the total workforce and contributes about 17-18 per cent to the country's GDP. This budget should be a landmark to the agrarian policies as it is the budget prior to the next general elections 2019. The government should give greater emphasis to the growth of agriculture and should focus more on market reforms so that farmers get a better price for their produce.
Advancement of rural economy with the combination of strong agricultural regulations, ease of empowering the source of non-farm incomes and endorsing rural employment schemes are chiefly important for up gradation of rural sector.
Agricultural sector should attract more budgetary allocation reforms such as Pradhan Matri Fasal Bima Yojna. The delivery of remunerative prices to farmers, electronic trading facilities, and crop insurances will act as an aid to revive the sector and support the income of the farmers. The budget should also highlight dairy, fruit, and vegetable items which have the potential to grow 3-4 times. The contribution of dairy and animal husbandry to GDP is 30 per cent of the agricultural share and growth rate is as high as 14 per cent. The dairy sector should be treated at par with the agricultural sector with more fund allocation during the budget. Income tax exemption should be more for agriculture sector.
Skill development programmes have not yet proven to be effective and they need to be boosted in the economy. Generation of employment is the need of the hour. For the success of Skill India mission, the Ministry has to facilitate employment of skilled youth and this requires mediation with industry and other Ministries to help create qualitative and sustainable jobs in the market. Skill Development programs will enhance Make in India project. Small- and medium-scale manufacturing sectors need to be encouraged. MGNERGA should be given more importance in the budget to avoid unemployment of the landless labours and agricultural labour.
Gender budgeting should be the highlight of this budget. It got more importance in last year's budgets. "The rationale for gender budgeting arises from the recognition of the fact that national budgets impact men and women differently through the pattern of resource allocation," said this statement from the Ministry of Women and Child Development. "Women constitute 48 per cent of India's population, but they lag behind men on many social indicators like health, education and economic opportunities. Hence, they warrant special attention due to their vulnerability and lack of access to resources."
Only 27 per cent of Indian women are in the labour force: the second-lowest rate of female labour-force participation in South Asia after Pakistan; 1,403 females never attended any educational institution for every 1,000 males who have not, and eight in 10 uneducated children who were married before 10 in India were also girls. Apart from the Central government, 17 states have adopted gender budgeting.
Gender Budgeting rose from 18 per cent to 20 per cent in 2017. Gender budgeting was introduced in the budget for the first time in 2005-06. Basically, there is two types of gender budgeting: first, in which 100 per cent provision is given to the women-oriented schemes and programs; and second, schemes where the allocation for women constitute at least 30 per cent of the provision. Fundraising on Beti Bachao Beti Padhao scheme and maternity scheme (Indira Gandhi Matritatav Yojna) need hike in the budget. Income tax exemption should be more to women. Budget allocation ought to be more for SC/ST women for increase in their literacy rate and health issues. Skill development programs should give 50 per cent weightage to women-oriented programs.
(Dr. Shalini Saxena is Assistant Professor of Political Science and International Relations at Amity University. The views are strictly personal)