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New Delhi, February 1, 2020
Highlighting the importance of nurturing a caring society, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman unveiled several key proposals with focus on women and child, and on social welfare, in the Union Budget 2020-21 presented in Parliament today.
In her Budget speech in the Lok Sabha, the Finance Minister said, “I am pleased to inform the House that ‘Beti Bachao Beti Padhao’ has yielded tremendous results. Gross enrolment ratio of girls across all levels of education is now higher than boys.”
At the elementary level, it is 94.32 % as against 89.28 % for boys. Similar trends in gross enrolment ratio were also observed at secondary and higher secondary levels, she added.
Emphasising on nutrition as a critical component on health, she proposed to provide Rs 35,600 crore for nutrition-related programmes for the year 2020-21. She drew attention to the ‘Poshan Abhiyan’ which was launched in 2017-18 to improve the nutritional status of children (0-6 years), adolescent girls, pregnant women and lactating mothers.
More than six lakh Anganwadi workers had been equipped with smartphones to upload the nutritional status of more than 10 crore households, which was an unprecedented development.
Sitharaman noted that with India’s progress, opportunities were opening up for women to pursue higher education and careers, and the entire issue about the age of a girl entering motherhood, therefore, needed to be seen in a new light.
She proposed to appoint a task force for this purpose which would present its recommendations in six months’ time.
Highlighting the government’s continued commitment to the welfare of women, the Finance Minister proposed an outlay of about Rs 28,600 crore for programmes that were specific to women.
Addressing the issue of manual scavenging, she said, “Our government is determined that there shall be no manual cleaning of sewer systems or septic tanks. Suitable technologies for such tasks have been identified by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs. The Ministry is working with urban local bodies for the adoption of these technologies.”
She proposed to take this effort to its logical conclusion through legislative and institutional changes along with the provision of financial support for wider acceptance of such technologies.
The Finance Minister proposed a budget provision of about Rs 85,000 crore for 2020-21 to further the government’s commitment towards the welfare of Scheduled Castes and Other Backward Classes.
She also provided an allocation of Rs 53,700 crore for the year 2020-21 for further development and welfare of Scheduled Tribes.
Keeping in mind the concerns of senior citizens and the disabled, the Finance Minister proposed an enhanced allocation of about Rs 9,500 crore for 2020-21 in the Union Budget.