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Budget cuts women welfare dead

GOING BY the Budget for the Financial Year 2006-2007 presented and passed in the Vidhan Sabha, it appears that the vital issue of the women?s welfare has taken a backseat and has been dropped from the Mulayam-led Government?s priority list.

india Updated: Feb 23, 2006 01:40 IST

GOING BY the Budget for the Financial Year 2006-2007 presented and passed in the Vidhan Sabha, it appears that the vital issue of the women’s welfare has taken a backseat and has been dropped from the Mulayam-led Government’s priority list.

In the last Budget, the Government had, for the first time, introduced the concept of ‘gender budgeting’ with a lot of fan-fare. However, there is no mention of the gender budgeting this year’s Budget. Even in the last financial year, nothing specific was done under the gender budgeting barring that allocation for the old Kanya Vidya Dhan Scheme was increased.

The State Government has announced in the new Budget to adopt the Centre-sponsored ‘Balika Smradhi Yojna’ which was being financed by the Central Government but was later dropped. Under this scheme, dropped by the Centre but adopted by the State Government, poor girl students would be given NSCs worth Rs 800. The scheme may be good for publicity and for gaining popularity but it would hardly serve any purpose to the poor girl students.

In a bid to paint a rosy picture that a lot has been done under the much-hyped gender budgeting of the Chief Minister, bureaucrats responsible for introducing new schemes for the welfare of the underprivileged women, had developed a unique system in the last financial year.

They simply clubbed all the ongoing women’s welfare schemes and showed a complete package under the ‘gender budget’ creating an impression that certain new schemes were launched. However, the fact remained that nothing new was done for the women’s welfare and only a combined package of old schemes was re-launched.

Not only this, the bureaucrats summed up the total amount which was already being spent on different ongoing women’s welfare schemes to claim that such a huge Budget was provided under the 2005-2006 gender budget of the Mulayam-led government.

A pitiable situation prevails on the women’s welfare front in the state where even the indicators for women empowerment have not yet been decided.
The maternal mortality rate is constant in the state — at 700 per every one lakh — despite various schemes to bring it down.

The infant mortality rate is also constant at 80 for the last five years but nobody seems to be bothered to find out the reason behind failure of various ongoing schemes.s.

It may sound strange but the fact is that more than 75 per cent girls in Lalitpur and Azamgarh districts are being married below the age of 18.

The birth rate is strangely constant at 2.1 per cent over the years while crores of rupees are being spent every year on family welfare schemes.

Over four lakh self-help groups have been constituted in the state but only ten per cent of them have been activated so far. It is strange that there is no fool-proof system in the Government to measure and assess the success or failure of its various welfare schemes.

First Published: Feb 23, 2006 01:40 IST