Children have been handed out a raw deal in the Budget with resources earmarked for them not only falling below the requirement, but even being a steep 17.12 per cent lower than the previous year, says child rights organisation CRY.
Noting that total child budget as percentage of GDP has gradually been declining since FY12, it said allocation in the current Budget stands at only 0.41 per cent of GDP.
"The most drastic cut in the child budget, however, has occurred only in this Budget. In absolute amount, child budget in FY14 was Rs 72,496 crore, which declined to Rs 69,888 crore in FY15 and for FY16 it stands at low Rs 57,919 crore, a steep decline of 17.12 per cent y-o-y," CRY said.
The NGO also noted that the allocation for children as percentage of the total budget has also been falling since FY13 and in the current Budget, it is only 3.26 per cent.
The finance ministry has explained that the reduction is on account of higher devolution of taxes to the states following the 14th Finance Commission report and that the total resources available for the schemes for children will remain unaffected.
But, the agency pointed out that the Budgetary allocations fell short for key categories like child education, development, health and protection.
Of the total child budget in FY16, child education got 79.0 per cent followed by child development (15.1 per cent), child health and child protection received a share of 3.9 per cent and 1.8 per cent, respectively.
A scrutiny of the child-specific schemes shows that there has been substantial cut in most schemes in the current Budget, compared to the previous budgets.
The total allocation for the department of school education and literacy massively declined from Rs 54,101.31 crore in FY15 to Rs 40,757.07 crore in FY16, while for the Sarva Siksha Abhiyan it fell from Rs 27,758 crore in FY15 to Rs 22,000 crore for FY16.
For the mid-day meal scheme, the current Budget massively slashed the provisions to Rs 9,236.40 crore from Rs 13,215.00 crore last fiscal.
The allocation for the Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan too has been pegged lower at Rs 3,565 crore in FY16 from Rs 5,000 crore last fiscal.
With regard to child health, total allocation from the health ministry for child-specific schemes has come down from Rs 2,914.44 crore in FY15 to Rs 2,277.94 crore in FY16.
But the integrated child development scheme has seen the maximum cut with the allocation for next fiscal being at a low Rs 8,335.77 crore from Rs 18,195 crore in FY15.
However, the integrated child protection scheme saw a marginal rise in allocation of Rs 402.23 crore in FY16 from Rs 400 crore FY15.