Continuing Pursuit of Fiscal Consolidation and Undermining Social Development Union Budget 2017-18

K.B. Saxena

A budget represents a balancing exercise of receipts and expenditure in the country’s economy in a given financial year taking into account the overarching social goals to be pursued and various competing demands, interests and imperatives. It is also, as former Finance Minister, P. Chidambaram reminded us recently, a contextual document in that it responds to the state of the economy as impacted by important national and international developments for pursuit of stable economic growth. These contextual circumstances consisted of the continued stagnation of world economy, decline in growth rates of exports, drying up of investment and demonetization of high value currency notes of Rs. 1000 and 500 and a thrust towards digitized cashless economy which led to disruption and slowed down the growth rate. In these circumstances, the projected pursuit of achieving a GDP growth rate of 7% in the Budget required a macro­economic management characterized by an expansionary fiscal policy which would boost demand spur growth and generate employment. However, the Budget like last year has chosen to take fiscal contractionary path with determination to keep fiscal deficit at existing level of 3.2% of the GDP (Gross Domestic Product) (despite N K Singh Committee Report giving flexibility to go up to 3.5%) and to undertake further economic reforms. This conservative option obviously has led to lowering of expenditure in the absence of higher level of revenue receipts from increase in tax levels particularly of the rich. Further, this year, the Budget also shows a definitive shift to expenditure management and programme implementation rather than on enhanced allocation as a route to boost economic growth. Accordingly, the budget shows a decline in expenditure as a percentage of GDP from 13.4% in 2016-17 (RE (Revised Estimates)) and 14.2% (2012-13BE) to 12.7% in 2017-18 (BE (Budget Estimates)). The total size of the budget has come down as a result. This shows up in reduced development expenditure. This level of expenditure may see a further dip at the RE stage as the targets of tax collection may not materialize due to adverse impact of demonetization on work load of tax officials and a large number of vacancies in officer cadres of revenue department and ambitious targets of non-tax receipts may not be realized as the past experience has shown. Besides, 2/3rd of the Public expenditure is non-developmental - defence, debt servicing, salaries and pensions [which have increased after the 7th Pay Commission]. Therefore, limited amount of expenditure is left for development. The first causality in this situation is social sector which gets lower priority in terms of allocation. As a result, in most of the Social sector schemes, the allocations have either been at the same level as last year or marginally higher. The latter would not even absorb the inflation and obligation of increased salaries of Staff resulting from 7th Pay Commission. This level of small increase in allocations does not result in either expansion of coverage or improved unit cost or strengthening of infrastructure and its maintenance. In fact, insufficient allocation undermines the legal obligations contained in right based entitlements such as MNREGS (Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme), NFSA (National Food Security Act), RTE (Right to Education Act) etc.

Last year, the Central government announced reduced central funding of crucial social sector schemes on the ground of increased devolution of resources to the States as a result of the 14th Finance Commission. But scrutiny of transfer of resources from Union to the States shows that the position has not changed as this transfer as a percentage of GDP has been 6.6% in 2016-17 and 6.4% in 2017-18. This is because the divisible pool of taxes gets reduced while cesses which are not included in it have increased. This impacts social sector schemes directly as states are new required to compensate for reduced Central share in the schemes. The much claimed transfer of increased resources to States has therefore not resulted in higher per capita spending on social sector by states. This has been shown in respect of eight of the ten states which CBGA has scrutinized. This analysis is based on allocation to social sector schemes in State budgets where the Central government reduced its share. This may, in many cases, be on account of weak taxation potential of some of these states such as Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Bihar, Assam and Odisha and competing demands from other sectors. This underlines the need for greater financial support to such States from the Centre rather than its reduction. CBGA (Central for Budget Governance and Accountability) analysis also brings out that despite weak fiscal health, eight out 10 states declared a revenue surplus budget to comply with the requirement of FRBM (Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Maintenance) Act to comply with the reduced fiscal deficit (CBGA). So, States are doubly constrained, first by reduced central share of funding social sector schemes and, second, by pressure for adhering to target of fiscal deficit while not getting transfer of larger quantum of overall resources from the centre.

Expenditure management has been pursued by merger of Plan and Non-plan expenditure. This has led to bifurcation of expenditure into ‘Capital’ and ‘Revenue’. This bifurcation would lead to increase in capital expenditure (creation of assets / infrastructure) while revenue expenditure which increases liability (Salaries and office expenditure and mobility) may be curtailed. This would also adversely affect social sector schemes which have a larger component of the latter expenditure and may further deteriorate the quality of implementation of these schemes while further improvement and coverage expansion is virtually ruled out.

The budget also privileges expenditure on infrastructure over provision of services and, within infrastructure, expenditure on transport infrastructure – Railways, Metros and Roads. It does not include in its ambit deteriorating infrastructure in social sectors such as education, health etc. It appears therefore that the government is deliberately withdrawing from social development in allocation of resource so as to phase out subsidies and introduce DBT (Direct Benefit Transfer) and voucher system in line with its unthinking ideological bias in favour. This would become further evident from sectoral allocations in the Budget. The sectors scrutinized here are those which affect poor people the most. These are Agriculture, Rural Development, Education, Health and Welfare the marginalized groups.

Agriculture

There is a basic inconsistency between FM’s (Finance Minister’s) budget speech which gave ‘top priority’ to agriculture and the actual allocations to the sector. While the budget of Ministry of Agriculture has increased by Rs 3053 cr from that of the last year, it has shown a decline both as a percentage of GDP and as a share of total Union Budget. Finance Minister has repeated the promise of doubling farmers’ income which is empty rhetoric with no supporting programmes or concessions.; Farmers’ income is not a salary which can be increased by an executive fiat. Farming is a business and as a business it continues to be a losing preposition where expenditure is higher than income for small and marginal farmers who constitute nearly 85% of the farming community. The only scheme which has received a substantially higher allocation in the Budget is crop insurance (PMFBY (Prime Minister’s Fasal Bima Yojna)). But the reach of the Programme is still small with only 26% of the cropped area covered so far. Further, actuarial premium has not come down with increased coverage. Rather, it is gone up from 9.8% in Kharif 2015 to 14.6% in Kharif 2016. More important, only a miniscule of farmers have got compensation. Thus, Insurance companies have benefited more than the farmers (Gulati and Hussain, 2016). There are also implementational glitches and conditionalities which have not been sorted out.

FM’s speech also mentions increase in irrigation find of NABARD (National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development) with additional Rs. 20,000 cr. But even in the last year’s allocation of irrigation fund of Rs. 20,000 cr, NABARD was provided with equity of only Rs. 500 cr to leverage funds from other sources. A dedicated micro-irrigation fund with initial corpus of Rs. 5000 cr with NABARD announced this year may face the same fate. Increase in agriculture credit target to Rs. 10 lakh crore provides no solace to small and marginal farmers as most of the bank loan is cornered by agri-business and a few large farmers and the poor farmers have to rely on private money lenders for their needs. The scheme of direct benefit to farmers, Rashtry Krishi Vikas Yojna, has seen a reduction in allocation. Farmer’s distress which has led to suicides of lakhs of them received no attention. Government has even failed to ensure MSP (Minimum Support Price) for pulses. Kharif Pulses this year recorded an increase of 58% in output as a result of higher prices last year. But Government has failed to purchase the entire crop by giving an attractive MSP and create a buffer stock so as to bring down the prices of pulses and reduce imports. Farmers are discouraged as pulses prices in the market goes below MSP because Private Players are not buying as there is a stock limit imposed on the while state agencies cannot procure more than 20% of their produce (Gulati and Hussain, 2017). The area under pulses may drop next year as a result. So much for the ‘top priority’ given to Agriculture.

Rural Development

Ministry of Rural Development is important for the poor for three Programmes: MNREGS, IAY Rural Roads. The much publicized highlight of this year’s Rural Development budget is the increased allocation of MNREGS (Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme) Programme from Rs. 38500 cr in 2016-17 (BE) to 48000 cr 2017-18 (BE) described by FM as the highest ever for the programme. But this conceals the reality that the increase is only Rs 500 cr since the actual expenditure in 2016-17 was Rs. 47500 cr. This very very small increase would cripple the Programme unless substantially enhanced at the RE Stage because it would even fail to compensate for mandatory increase in CPI indexed wages and expected increase in material costs besides unpaid wages and compensation payment for employment denied from last year. Besides as a percentage of GDP, allocation for MNREGS has declined from 0.32% (2016-17) to 0.28% (2017-18).

Indira Awas Yojna renamed as (PMAY (Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojna)) has received an increase in allocation of Rs. 7000 cr from the level of the allocation last year. This allocation is, however, inadequate considering the huge unmet demand. The Programme also suffers from inadequate utilization considering the gap between physical target and actual performance as brought out by the Parliamentary Committee though last year it was able to achieve 87% (CBGA, 2017). The reduced Central share for the scheme would also affect the program since poorer states may not be able to meet the gap created by reduced central funding. The scheme on rural roads (PMGSY (Prime Minister’s Gramin Sadak Yojna)) has received no enhancement at all and the budget outlay is at the level of actual performance last year which was 40.5% of the year’s outlay. Rather than sorting out the glitches which affect poor utilisation, the Programme allocation has been frozen at the 2016-17 (A) level which shows lack of priority despite the pronounced emphasis on infrastructure in FM’s (Finance Minister) speech. Mission Antyodya of bringing one crore households and 50000 GPs out of Poverty trap within a year is empty rhetoric with neither any scheme nor allocation for it. A mere 1% of increase as a percentage of GDP in Rural Development’s budget therefore, does not respond to the magnitude of problems where 69% of the population resides.

Education

The deprioritisation of education in the Budget is in contrast to the depressing picture of the state of public schools. Around 500,000 posts of teachers are vacant and there are 500,000-600000 contract teachers; 4,000 District Education Resource Centres are paralysed due to financial crisis; 20 per cent of schools in the country have no drinking water facility and many have no toilets. Rs 2,30,000 crore is required to comply with the RTE requirements in schools alone. The Ministry of Human Resource Development has received a budget allocation of only Rs 79,000 crore of which the share of school education is only Rs 46,000 crore. The SSA, RMSA, Teachers Training and Mid- Day Meal Schemes have received a paltry Rs 3000 crore. The Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) has received only Rs 1000 crore which would not even cover the cost of inflation Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan (RMSA) with an allocation of mere Rs 130 crore is not given any importance. (Elsewhere in the world, compulsory education is up to the secondary level). Teacher training has received a paltry increase ofjust Rs 75 crore despite the fact that it is a major factor in improving learning outcomes of children.

There are also other regressive features. The Navoday Vidyalayas announced with much fanfare, last year have virtually receded to the background with a paltry sum of Rs 85 crore. The pre-matric scholarships for SC (Scheduled Caste) students has suffered a huge cut from Rs 500 crore last year to only Rs 50 crore this year. This is not for lack of demand. In respect of minorities, there’s no focus on setting up schools near their habitation and provision of Urdu teachers. The little focus that has been given to minorities is on madrassa modernisation. MNCs (Multi-National Corporations) are coming in a big way to take away this segment of education with an eye on cornering public resources. For instance, Andhra Pradesh is handing over 3,000 schools to the private sector while Rajasthan has closed down 4,000 schools. (Rai, 2017)

While the allocation for higher education is higher compared to the SSA and RMSA, the figures are misleading. There is a doubling of expenditure on the IITS due to their increase in numbers, which has lowered the quality of teaching as qualified teachers are not available. Skill development has received a major slice of the Budget with Rs 400 crore under ‘Sankalp.’ Skill development, without universal and quality primary education, would yield no significant benefit. Similarly, Innovation to encourage Girl Child enrolment in secondary education has received a seven times increase in its allocation with a focus on ICT enabled learning transformation. Measuring learning outcomes or quality without improving infrastructure, teachers training and curricular reforms is like seeking innovation without knowledge. The scheme ignores the need for girls’ hostels, in the absence of which there is a high level of dropouts. An increase in merit scholarship and hostel for girls would have achieved the objective of enrolment of girls rather that innovation (Dubey, 2017). What we see in education can be summed up as inclusion through exclusion as a large mass of youth would be deprived of access to education in the emerging situation.

Health

Ministry’s, allocation has increased by 20% over that of last year. As a percentage of GDP, it has marginally increased by 0.04% which is highly inadequate considering the huge number of serious health problems afflicting the country and the promised increased to at least 2.5% (Centre and States combined) in the Draft National Health Policy 2015. While NHM (National Health Mission) has received more than 50% of the allocation of total health budget, its proportion to the total budget of the Ministry has declined by 10% from what was the position in 2012-13 (CBGA, 2017). Far more important, while urban areas were added to the erstwhile NRHM by redesigning the programmes as NHM, the urban part of NHM’s allocation has decreased by 200 cr. despite the increasing need. Also, within the health budget, government’s priorities are flawed. It privileges tertiary care over preventive and promotive which is explained by Rs. 2000 cr higher allocation for PMSY. The scheme is for setting up two AIIMS like institutions in Gujarat and Jharkhand National Health Protection Scheme to provide health care of Rs. 1 lakh per family has received an increase of Rs. 276 cr only which indicates lack of seriousness in extending the protection. The announcement of ensuring availability of free generic medicines through Jan Aushdhi stores last year has seen very poor progress. So far only 683 such centres have been opened out of the promised 3000. The existing spread of the centres has also been skewed across states with entire state of Bihar getting only 4 centres (CBGA,2017). Besides, these centres are facing enormous problems due to which shopkeepers are saddled with losses and many of them may close down. These problems include poor medical supply chain, lack of awareness among people (Pratap, 2017). Allocation for the scheme remains low and shows that the commitment to the scheme is declining. The benefit announcement to transform 5 lakh health sub-centres into wellness centres is mere rhetoric. There is no details of what this change of nomenclature would imply by way of benefit to health care seekers Similarly, declaration to reduce IMR (Infant Mortality Rate) and MMR (Maternal Mortality Rate) and eliminate Kalazar, fluorosis, leprosy and Malaria without any new programme or changed strategy, or additional infrastructure and services would make no change to the situation since such commitments have been made before.

Welfare of Marginalized Groups

Scheduled Castes

There are two norms by which the human face of the budget is judged. One is the resources allocated to social sectors and the other is the treatment accorded to vulnerable and marginalized groups in society. On both counts, the budget, as in the preceding year, fares poorly. This is also in line with neo-liberal orthodoxy which resists any attempt to direct resources to any subsidized welfare programmes as it regards such expenditure as unproductive. As per this thinking, growth is the route to all welfare including poverty alleviation. We have already seen this in the neglect of social sector in terms of resource allocation. As for the vulnerable sections, SCs/STs (Scheduled Caste / Scheduled Tribes) have been historically the most marginalized groups which have been recognized by the Constitution itself. These groups lag behind the ‘advanced’ social groups in respect of all norms of social and economic development. The development paradigm has therefore accorded special attention them to bridge this huge gap. The two groups draw resources for their development from two streams. One is the fund allocated to Ministries dealing with these groups for specific set of activities they undertake for their welfare. The other is the arrangement which pools resources from different sectoral ministries (largely Social) in proportion to their respective population and then spends them for activities which directly benefit them. The latter is known as Sub-Plan arrangement which was started in the 1970s and had been continuing until the current budget. This structure finds no mention now in the budget and in its place resources allocated under the title ‘welfare of the Scheduled Castes’ has been substituted. This is because the Sub-Plan arrangement pooled resources from Plan funds only. The head of expenditure has changed with the abolition of plan and non-plan distinction in resources for development expenditure. The allocation for the Ministry of SJE (dealing with SCs) has been increased by merely Rs. 360 cr from the level of the last year. This increase is marginal and disregards the adverse observations of made by the Ministry’s Parliamentary Standing Committee as well as the demand from the Ministry itself for substantially higher allocation to meet the gaps in existing schemes and high level of fund utilization of 96% (CBGA, 2017). What has also been disregarded is the unmet demand for Post Matric scholarship and poor condition of hostels which require renovation and improvement. Ministry, however, has been unable to utilize money allocated for pre-matric scholarship due procedural bottlenecks and not lack of demand. The fund for PM’s Adarsh Gram Yojna and Self-employment- scheme for liberated manual Scavengers also remains unutilized. The Scheme for Scavengers has been allocated only Rs. 5 cr. against Rs. 10 cr last year despite a revised law having been enacted which requires more intensive work. Special Central Assistance has also remained stagnant at Rs. 800 cr. for the last three years. Allocation for SC/ST (POA (Prevention of Atrocities)) Act which has recently been revised has been increased from Rs 228 cr to 300 cr. which may turn out to be inadequate if the Act is effectively implemented and its legal obligations are sincerely met.

The lump sum amount of Rs. 13,5650 cr allocated for welfare of SCs in place of Scheduled Caste Sub Plan provides no indication of the basis of allocation. This is because the sub plan mechanism was based on pooling of resources from central/ state Sector Plan Schemes of different Ministries in proportion to the population of these two groups. In the current nomenclature of allocation, it is not possible to scrutinize whether requisite share has been pooled or not from the concerned Ministries. Besides, the amount allocated seems large which is not due to introduction of any new scheme but inclusion of schemes which were not included in Sub-Plan as these were non plan items. The inflated amount therefore gives a misleading picture of higher allocations from the previous years. The truth would be known only after the basis of allocation by different Ministries is spelt out which, hopefully, may happen during the course of the year since Niti Ayog has been entrusted with the responsibility.

Scheduled Tribes

More or less the same situation operates in respect of Tribals. The allocation of MOTA (Ministry of Tribal Affairs) has been increased by Rs. 502 cr which is a mere 10% of Ministry’s allocation. Sub-Plan has been substituted by ‘Allocation for welfare of Scheduled Tribes’. This allocation has been divided as ‘Capital’ and ‘revenue’. There is no framework of earmarking this amount to permit scrutiny of whether it is more or less than the previous years. This pattern of allocation also makes it difficult to find out how much money has been allocated which would directly benefit Scheduled Tribes.

Ministry’s allocation has remained stagnant for the last 4 years. There has been no significant increase in allocation of its schemes such as Development of PVTGs (Particularly Valuable Tribal groups), MSP (Minimum Support Price) for MFP (Minor Forest Produce) and Fellowship / Scholarship for Higher Education, nor a new scheme has been introduced. Parliamentary Standing Committee for the Ministry has raised concerns regarding insufficient funds which has led to mounting dues to State governments for Post Matric Scholarship (CBGA, 2017).

Minorities

The situation is worse in respect of religious minorities. The allocation for minorities also comes from two streams 1) allocation to the Ministry of Minorities 2) Resources flowing from other Ministries to the 15 point programme. The latter money is spent on minorities by other ministries within their schemes.

Budget allocation for Minorities increased by just 9% this year which constitutes 0.2% of the union governments’ expenditure for 19% of the population of which 13% are Muslims. This is despite the fact that utilization of allocation to the Ministry has improved considerably. The allocation to the Ministry for its flagship Area Development Programme called Multi-Sectoral Development merely increased by Rs. 141 cr while the scheme has been extended to 710 development Blocks and 66 towns. If this amount is equally distributed to all the units, the amount would be too small to take up any worthwhile scheme. Besides, Blocks and Towns may have many clusters of Minority population which would further detract from taking up meaningful development. This kind of tokenism in allocation creates no visible impact. The area development scheme also fails to deliver on account of failure to target Muslims who need it the most, and wrong choice of location leading to diversion to areas which have no minority concentration. There is also a very poor rate of completion of schemes. Ministry of Minorities also directly implements two other categories of schemes, one relating to scholarships and the other relating to skill development and credit. Scholarship Schemes have a huge unmet demand. But the scheme is mired in procedural and structural bottlenecks such as eligibility conditions, procedure for registration of claims and requirement of certificates, late receipt of scholarship, unit cost. There is discrimination in respect of these norms for minority students when compared to SC/ST students. In respect of Fifteen Point Programme, too low targets and allocations, failure to tie up details and lack of focus on ensuring that benefit trickles down to the needy minorities have resulted in huge disappointment to the potential beneficiaries. 15 Point Programme is also constrained by poor monitoring and lack of coordination in which task the Ministry of Minorities is very weak and is unable to assert vis-a-vis the Ministries which are implementing schemes. The figures of physical benefits are notional as targeted implementation does not take place and disaggregated data is not collected. Anti-discriminatory measures recommended by the Sachar Committee have also not been implemented.

Women

The allocation for the Ministry of Women and Child Development has been enhanced by Rs. 4500 cr. On the face of it, this increase looks substantial. But Rs. 2700 cr in this allocation is meant for Maternity Benefit scheme which is a part of legal entitlement under NFSA but had not been implemented so far. The start of the scheme, though late, is no doubt welcome, but allocation is inadequate. The entitlement under NFSA is unconditional and universal while the allocated amount, as clarified by the FM, would only be available to the pregnant women for their first child. This conditionality undermines the legal entitlement. Universal coverage as per law would require allocation of Rs. 14500 cr while the allocated amount is less than 20%. Several new announcements have been made in the Budget such as setting up Mahila Shakti Kendras in 14 lakh ICDS (Integrated Child Development Services) centres which would provide skill development, employment, digital literacy, health & nutrition. No details have been given nor any money allotted for this work. Besides, the proposal diverts attention of AWCs (Anganwadi Centres) from the primary task of health & nutrition which itself is unsatisfactorily executed. Similarly, Action plan to reduce IMR from 39 to 28 by 2019 and MMR from 167 to 100 by 2020 has also been proposed. Again, no financial allocation has been made for this purpose. Both these tasks, in any case, are performed by existing health centres which suffer from lack of service providers, availability of services, infrastructure, connectivity of health centres with villages covered etc. Beti Bachao and Beti Padhao scheme has received an increase of Rs. 157 cr/ from a meagre amount of Rs. 43 cr last year. Other schemes have secured marginal increases of around 10%. ICDS, the flagship programme has received a mere Rs. 2000 cr, an increase of just 14% from the previous year despite the recommendation of the Parliamentary Standing Committee for a substantially higher amount (CBGA, 2017). The amount allocated is insufficient to address its needs - universal coverage, increase in unit cost, provision of infrastructure etc. The Budget has failed to increase One Step Centre to provide immediate services to women victims of violence from existing 17 to proposed 150. SABLA scheme for adolescent girls still continues to be implemented in its pilot phase and has not been expanded.

Gender Budgeting is the more significant mode of resources allocation for women. Part ‘A’ of this budget has seen a huge increase of Rs. 31,390 cr. But this gives a misleading picture as it includes the allocation for PMAY (Prime Minister’s Awas Yojna) (M/o HRD (Human Resource Development)) and LPG subsidy (M/o Energy). Neither the two schemes benefit women exclusively. Both are targeted at the households. Therefore, by pushing this allocation to Part ‘A’ of Gender Budget, a false impression of higher resource allocation for women is sought to be projected. Part ‘B’ has shown an increase of Rs. 8000 cr. But most agencies in Part ‘B’ report 30% allocation for women retrospectively. This implies that the claim that this allocation has benefitted women is notional (assumed) and not necessarily correlated with physical benefits reaching women. Many important Ministries continue to be outside the Gender Responsive Budgeting. NIRBHAYA Fund has still not reported any significant utilization.

Children

There has been no new scheme for children. The increase of Rs. 5547 cr shown against children is misleading as the entire amount of ICDS, RMSA and SSA has been included in it. Even when this trickery is taken into account, children have received barely 3.3% of the Union Budget for the last three years as against the recommendation by National Action Plan for children for allocating at least 5% (CBGA, 2017). Besides, Education accounts for bulk of this allocation. Protection and Health are neglected. Despite huge vulnerabilities children face, the allocation for child protection scheme has received an increase of only Rs. 50 crore. Similarly, despite very high level of undernutrition, ICDS has not been universalized and received an increase of only 13% increase in last year’s allocation which would not even absorb the cost of inflation and pay increase of staff resulting from seventh Pay Commission.

Disability Groups

People with Disabilities continue to be marginalized as much in society as in budget allocation. There is no commitment across sectors to address problem of this social group. The department of disability has received a marginal increase of Rs. 71 cr in its budget. The budget for Central Sector Schemes has witnessed an increase of Rs. 46 cr and the budget for National Programme for Welfare of Disabled persons has secured an increase of only Rs. 15 cr. This is despite the fact that a new law has been enacted for the groups which is an improvement over the earlier law and would require higher level of allocation for its implementation. There is virtually a single programme operating for this group which has 14 schematic components. This highlights the point that direct intervention for this group by the Government is very very marginal. ALIMCO (Artificial Limbs Manufacturing Corporation), which supplies prosthetic aids for the PWDS has not witnessed any increase in its budget for the last three years.

The other sources of allocation of resources for this group are the schemes implemented by other Ministries. Three Ministries have schemes for people with Disabilities - HRD (Human Resource Development), HFW (Health and Family Welfare) and Youth Affairs/ Sports. But overall, total allocation for PWDs (Persons with Disability) by these Depts. / Ministries shows a declining trend from 1.06% in 2015-16 to 0.98% in 2017-18 (CBGA, 2017). PWDs continue to face discrimination and exclusion notwithstanding the law which prohibits it. Financial Exclusion is one such area. PWDs still cannot open an account in a Bank. Banks consider them unbankable. The barriers for mainstreaming PWDs are still very formidable.

Conclusion

The poor people are on the edge and their struggle for dignified survival is getting more and more precarious. It would be evident from the foregoing that their concerns are not on the radar of the priorities of the Government due to its unthinking ideological bias. The welfare architecture erected over a period of time is getting undermined. It would not be long before it is dismantled. This is happening at a time when political resistance to it within the democratic institutions is the weakest. This poses the most formidable challenge to all those who cherish a welfare state with a supportive paradigm of economy.

References:

Rashmi Pratap (2017). ‘Patrons of Jan Aushadhi ill at ease’. The Hindu, February 1, 2017.

Gulati, Ashok and Siraj Hussain (2016). ‘Partial Security for Farmers’. The Indian Express, December 19, 2016.

Gulati Ashok (2017). ‘Growth amidst gloom’. The Indian Express, Jan, 16, 2017.

Centre for Budget and Governance Accountability (2017). ‘What Do the number Tell’ in An Analysis of Union Budget 2017-18.

Rai, Ambrish (2017). ‘State of Public Schools’ at a discussion on the current budget, Council for Social Development, February 25, 2017.

Dubey, Muchkund (2017). ‘Neglect of Education’, at a discussion on the current budget, Council for Social Development, February 25, 2017.

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