The Economic Survey has stated that investment in maternal and child nutrition is a must for the country to capitalise on the ‘demographic dividend’. Taking this forward, the Budget for 2016-17 announced by the Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, has provided enhanced budgetary support for critical areas where schemes of the Ministry of Women and Child Development are operational particularly for providing supplementary nutrition as well as protection for women and children.
As per the Expenditure Statement, the total budget allocation for 2016-17 stands at Rs 17,408 crores. A total amount of Rs. 15,860 crores has been provided for the development of children which includes additional funds to the tune of Rs. 415 crores and Rs. 300 crores respectively under the World Bank assisted strengthening programme for Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) and the National Nutrition Mission. Additional funds have also been provided for setting up of the Food and Nutrition laboratories. Both of these will provide support to the Ministry’s effort to fight child malnutrition in the country.
The Beti Bachao Beti Padhao budget has been enhanced from Rs. 75 crores (RE) to Rs. 100 crores in 2016-17. Similarly, the allocation for establishment of shelter homes for women has been increased from Rs. 52 crores (RE) in 2015-16 to Rs. 100 crores in 2016-17. The allocation for establishment of One Stop Centres has been increased by almost 500 per cent, from Rs 13 crores to Rs 75 crores. The Finance Minister has also allocated an amount of Rs. 500 crores to be transferred into the Nirbhaya Fund for meeting requirements for additional schemes for women’s safety.
With these measures, it is expected that the Ministry will be able to effectively take forward the agenda of development of women and children.