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Public Provisioning for Children during the Covid-19 Pandemic

Children have been worst sufferers due to the pandemic as well as the measures adopted to curb its spread. Be it in the domain of nutrition, education or protection from abuse and child labour, many important services provided by the government have been severely affected for long periods of time in the last one year. Budgets for several child specific schemes have also come down in the Union Budget of 2021-22. Both the factors, the reduced budgets for children schemes as well as the disruption in the delivery of important services related to child health, nutrition, education and protection can leave long-lasting negative impact on the overall development of children, making them even more vulnerable in the years to come.

  • Which are some of those prominent schemes for children which have seen a decline in allocations in the Union Budget of 2021-22?
  • Has there been any scheme which has received higher allocations by the Union Government in this year’s budget as compared to last year? @protiva @shrutiambast @trisha_a21 @happy

Schemes for child nutrition have been hit hard: most notably, Anganwadi Services (commonly known as ICDS).

Anganwadi Services has been combined with three other schemes: POSHAN Abhiyan, Scheme for Adolescent Girls and National Creche Scheme, under the new umbrella Mission POSHAN 2.0. The budget for Mission POSHAN 2.0 in 2021-22 BE is 18.5% less than the combined allocation for these four schemes in 2020-21 BE - quite a significant cut.

Anganwadi coverage is far from universal, particularly in urban areas. Unit costs for supplying supplementary nutrition are low. In fact the 15th FC had suggested they should be increased, but this suggestion was ignored. The pay for Anganwadi Workers and Helpers continues to be below the minimum wage, and they remain uncovered by formal social protection programmes. In this situation, reducing the budget for the scheme is extremely detrimental.

Hi Simonti! my [email protected] is following:

The total allocation for school education by Ministry of Education itself has witnessed a decreased this year as compared to 2020-21(BE). Of the important schemes, budget for Samagra Shiksha Abhiyan has been slashed From Rs. 38751 cr to Rs.31050 cr. The budget for National Scheme for Incentive to Girl Child for Secondary Education has witnessed a drastic cut from earlier Rs. 110 cr in 2020-21(BE) to Rs. 1 cr in 2021-22(BE).
However, the budget for Kendriya Vidyalays has increased by around 23% and for Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya by 15%.

@simonti-chakraborty: It would be interesting to know, whether the budget cut in the child specific schemes in 2021-22 is also getting reflected in the output-outcome framework in terms of setting targets for this year as compared to the previous year.

By looking through the Output Outcome Framework Document for the years, 2020-21 and 2021-22, it can be said that there is no clear reflection of the decrease in budgets affecting the targets set this year. In fact, in flagship schemes, some of the targets seem to have been increased marginally even when there has been a decrease in budgets while a few other targets have been set at a lower level than last year. Moreover, comparing across the output-outcome framework is also difficult as some of the indicators have also changed between the two years, making them unsuitable for meaningful comparison.

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Thank you @simonti-chakraborty for sharing this information.