Budget: How The Government Can Deliver Better

The vote bank politics has driven many governments to allocate substantial funds for women. This is called gender budgeting. However, the gender budgeting is not helpful for any nation beyond a limit. Explained with previous Indian budgets and reports from international organizations.

Gender Budget – 2017

Union Finance Minister Shri Arun Jaitley has announced an 18% increase in spending over women to 1.84 Lakh Crore in 2017 Union Budget. While announcing these benefits in his budget speech Shri Jaitley said – ‘sabkaa saath, sabkaa vikas’ (prosperity for everyone with everyone) starts with girl child and women. With this announcement, the union government has officially outcast every boys and men including those who lived in rural areas.

Out of this 1.84 lakh crore gender budget investment on women, there were programs announced for lactating mothers and pregnant women which was needed to be looked at the expenditure on our future generation. But there were 500 crores budgetary expenditure on skill development, employment, digital literacy, health, and nutrition by setting up Mahila Shakti Kendras in rural areas, too.

This kind of gender based budgetary policies would not have raised any concern because this was supposed to be for improving condition of rural people but the problem was noted when we found rural boys were neglected. India’s census data showed that 30% rural women took part in the workforce compared to 15% urban women. Now with this new provision, rural girls got free skill development training while rural boys were forced to take up difficult and less paying agricultural roles. No wonder why those farmers continued to commit suicide while women were upskilled for better job profiles.

2018 Gender Budget

In 2018 too, we found there is a 4% increase in women’s budget. Allocation increased under ‘Beti Bachao Beti Padhao’ program. Allocation under maternity benefits program was 2400 crore. Gender budget allocation has also increased in ‘Nirbhaya Fund’. There was yet another scheme under EPF, that allowed women employees to contribute only 8% for first three years, whereas the govt. will contribute 12%. So the additional 4% of tax money was actually paid by men and their welfare was denied under this budget.

But is gender budgeting really good for women? Will these women contribute to our economy? Statistics from International Monetary Fund (IMF). World Bank and other global organizations prove otherwise.

IMF Report on Gender Budgeting

In a 2016 IMF report on ‘gender budgeting and its effects in Asian countries,’ the effect of gender budgeting was studied. This report showed that not only on budget allocation but gender budgeting can be achieved on revenue side budgeting like tax exemption –

imf-report-gender-budgeting
IMF report on gender budgeting showed revenue side budgeting like tax exemption for women

Note, India is taking up all different gender budgeting initiatives.

It is also observed from the IMF report that India has improved significantly in terms of Gross Enrollment in Secondary Education compared to that in 1990 and achieved almost equal enrolment in secondary education.

imf-gross-secondary-enrolment
Gross Secondary Enrollment Report – World Bank

Spend on Women and Labor Force Participation

However, in terms of labor force participation, it was observed that the ratio of female to male workers has reduced in 2013 compared to that in 1990 –

labour-force-participation
World Bank – Labour Force Participation

Another study by The Male Factor showed that out of world’s top 20 countries where more women attained higher education compared to men, did NOT participate in the economy on equal footing –

tertiary-education-labor-force-participation
Image shows labour force participation of women vis-a-vis level of tertiary education. Source – International Gender Gap Report, 2016

Gender Budgeting – A Mere Waste

So the question is, while India is providing more and more budgetary allocation for women in every way possible and trying to bring them to mainstream economy, are these women becoming increasingly careless about participating in the economy? This is surely an increasing waste for the Indian economy as the figures above show, while Indian males continue to pay the price for all such dependents.

This kind of wastage in the economy is never highlighted anywhere as there are enough agencies working for creating need for such policies while there is none working for welfare for those boys permanently handicapped of all opportunities.

When our intellectual resources and social researchers are thinking only about women and their welfare and when so much money is earned and spent only for women in the name of gender equality, how can we expect any welfare for boys and men? Today, the so-called gender warriors are all concerned about women-centric researches resulting depriving our boys and men while they continue to bear the burden of women.

So while India is continuously increasing its budget spent on women, Indian women are increasingly becoming a burden on Indian men in the name of development and equality.

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