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  • » 03/02/2015, 00.00

    INDIA

    India's 2015-2016 budget calls for growth, but on the back of children

    Nirmala Carvalho

    Lenin Raghuvanshi, director of the People's Vigilance Committee for Human Rights (PVCHR), slams the Finance minister's financial bill. Large infrastructure and energy investments come with heavy cuts in educational and development programmes for the country's children.

    Mumbai (AsiaNews) - India's 2015-2016 Union (federal) budget "lacks direction," and "supports a neoliberal economic policy at the expense of the weaker segments of society, like children," said Lenin Raghuvanshi, director of the People's Vigilance Committee for Human Rights (PVCHR). Mr Raghuvanshi spoke to AsiaNews about the Annual Financial Statement tabled two days ago by Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley.

    The financial bill is premised on 8-8.5 per cent growth (up from 7.4 per cent in the current fiscal year) through investments in infrastructure (US$ 11.3 billion) and "mega energy projects", whilst limiting the budget deficit.

    "The budget presented by the government is tailored to the Make in India campaign," Raghuvanshi told AsiaNews. "The latter focuses heavily on infrastructure, renewable energy, agriculture and defence. However, in doing so it takes away funds from one sector in which they are indispensable: children and their development."

    The PVCHR director noted some of the major budget cuts made by the government: a 29 per cent cut to children programmes over 2014/2015; a 55 per cent cut in the Ministry of Development's budget for women and children; a 22 per cent in children's health care; and a 25 per cent cut in children's education.

    Other crucial programmes being axed are the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (-21 per cent), which is aimed at broadening access to universal primary education, and the Midday Meal (-30 per cent), which provides free lunch to improve children's nutrition.

    Mr Raghuvanshi also noted that the plan to create 6,000 model schools at the local level to provide quality education for talented children in rural areas was cut by 99.92 per cent.

    Last but not least, in a country where "At least 20.3 million children suffer from malnutrition, it is disheartening to see funds for the Integrated Child Development Scheme (ICDS), which deals with the problem of malnutrition, cut by 54.19 per cent".

    Some programmes however saw larger budget allocations, a 42.86 per cent increase for child labour, and a 36.55 per cent increase for madrassas (Islamic schools) and minority schools.

    Despite this, for the human rights activist a major "question remains: how can we define 'developed' a country in which children are not taken into consideration?"

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    See also

    01/03/2011 INDIA
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    Fr Babu Joseph, spokesman of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI), calls it a “stimulus budget”. Steps taken in favour of education, health care and rural development are praised.

    30/06/2010 INDIA
    For atheist human rights activist, crucifix in Italian classrooms not against secularism
    According to Lenin Raghuvanshi, “Human rights and democracy do not exist in a vacuum, in a value-neutral space. Denying the identity, culture and history of a society is a violation of secularism and human rights.”

    14/04/2015 INDIA
    Haryana: yoga guru becomes "minister" to promote (radical) Hindu values
    Baba Ramdev is set to promote and supervise Ayurvedic practices in the State. The government wants to make yoga compulsory in schools. For Dalit rights advocate Lenin Raghuvanshi, the appointment is designed “to boost fascist forces and the concept of Hindu state".

    02/05/2011 INDIA
    Atheist praises John Paul II on human rights and love for one’s enemy
    Human rights activist Lenin Raghuvanshi speaks to AsiaNews about the teachings of the Polish-born pope on human rights, a day after the latter’s beatification. Together with Mother Teresa, he showed how poverty is a form of violence.

    30/12/2014 INDIA
    Let us listen to Francis against slave labour, scourge of India
    The secretary general of the People's Vigilance Committee on Human Rights (PVCHR) analyses the problem of human trafficking. Out of 30 million victims of bonded labour or slavery in the world, nearly half are in India.



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