Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced the budget for the year 2021-22 on February 1, and one of the key announcements that were made were regarding safety measures for women. During her speech, she said, “Minimum wages will apply to all categories of workers, and they will all be covered by the Employees State Insurance Corporation. Women will be allowed to work in all categories and also in the night-shifts with adequate protection. At the same time, compliance burden on employers will be reduced with single registration and licensing, and online returns.”
She also added that the government plans to allocate ₹1,000 crore—a special scheme will be devised—for tea workers’ welfare, especially women and their children in Assam and West Bengal.
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Furthermore, it has been reported that the budget for Women and Child Development Ministry has been hiked by 16 per cent. A sum of ₹24,435 crore has been set aside for the Ministry. Of this amount, Saksham Anganwadi and Mission Poshan 2.0 scheme will be allocated ₹20,105 crore. For the uninitiated, Poshan 2.0 covers Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS), Anganwadi Services, Poshan Abhiyaan, Scheme For Adolescent Girls and the National Creche Scheme.
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A few economists noted that a few schemes have been regrouped and renamed, without significant increments in allocations of schemes. Professor Reetika Khera, a social scientist, told The Hindu, “Anganwadi services have been clubbed with other schemes under Saksham yet the Saksham Budget in 2021-22 of ₹20,105 is less than the Anganwadi budget in 2020-21 of ₹20,532. Similarly, the Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana has now been clubbed with other schemes under Samarthya yet the allocation in 2021-22 is similar to the allocation for PMMVY alone in 2020-21.”
Lead image illustration: Ashish