Budget evokes mixed response from gender activists

February 29th, 2008 - 8:26 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of P. Chidambaram

New Delhi, Feb 29 (IANS) The 2008-09 budget presented by Finance Minister P. Chidambaram Friday evoked a mixed response from those concerned with women’s development issues. Ranjana Kumari, chairman of the Centre for Social Research and an NGO, Women Power Connect, said that although she welcomed the 24 percent increase in allocation for the ministry of women and child development, a lot more needed to be done.

“We are happy that most of the recommendations that the women’s delegation led by the minister of women and child development Renuka Chowdhury put forth to the finance minister before the budget have been incorporated into it,” she said.

“But although moves such as 24 percent increase in the budgetary allocation for the ministry of women and child development are welcome, we expected a bigger amount, keeping in view the deplorable status of women on various indices such as health, education and employment,” Kumari told IANS.

Anisha Sen, a lawyer in Delhi, said that while on the face of it the budget did look very women-friendly, she was not very happy with it.

“Last year we saw a move towards law reforms on women and requested for budget allocations for the implementation of these laws. However, I don’t see how these demands for allocation have been met with in this budget,” she said.

“They have definitely allocated funds for policies and schemes for women. But again women’s issues being cross cutting, we would probably have liked to see disaggregated allocation. I am not sure if they are attempting to achieve this through increase in allocation to the ministry of women and child development.”

Pragya Vats, who works in an NGO, however, was quite happy with the budget.

“That the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS) will now be rolled out to all 596 rural districts in India, including Jammu and Kashmir, with provisions of Rs.16,000 crore (Rs.160 billion) is good news,” she said.

“However, only time will tell how effective will all these schemes will be.”

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