About 40 per cent of India's population below the age of 18 would get just about 4.5 per cent of the government resources in the 2008-09 Budget.
Finance Minister P Chidambaram said that the budget has scored another first with a separate chapter on budgetary allocations for children. He proposed an allocation to the tune of Rs 33,433 crore to different ministries for children as against Rs 28,258 crore in the current fiscal. Eight Central government ministries had budgeted separate allocations for children.
Child right activists like Raj Mangal Prasad of NGO Pratidhi and Ranjana Kumar of Women Power Connect, however, described the allocation as inadequate. "Allocating more for children is investment for the future in which the governments have failed," Ranjana Kumari said.
Despite the reservations, the Women and Child Development Ministry will introduce a new scheme for child protection in select states from the next fiscal. Aimed at providing shelter to street children and strengthening the mechanism for protection of child rights, the scheme has got a start with an allocation of Rs 180 crore.
Although the Finance Minister admitted that policy makers tend to forget that half of the population is made up of women, he said gender budgeting has gained wider acceptance. The gender budget for the next fiscal shows that the government has allocated Rs 11,460 crore for 100 per cent women-specific schemes and Rs 16,202 crore for schemes with the share of women being 30 per cent.
The WCD Ministry has got a 24 per cent hike in allocation, the highest for any Central government ministry, primarily on account of increased allocation for the UPA government's flagship programme, Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS).
Chidambaram announced that remuneration of anganwadi workers under ICDS would be increased from Rs 1,000 per month to Rs 1,500 and for anganwadi helpers from Rs 500 to Rs 750 per month.