Budget 2016-Harbinger of New Hope

Author: Dr. Malini Nagulapalli,
(Mentor, Management of Public Finance)

A large part of discourse on presentation of every budget is to disentangle its central theme. Various set of viewpoints are raised mostly depending on the intellectual and ideological leanings. Beauty of the democracy is so pervasive that from among the din of cacophony of not so fully pure voices it never fails to churn out the thin common thread of truth and purity.

Little doubt remains that centrality of the budget 2016 is that of one gigantic push on agriculture and rural economy. Idea is writ so large in the proposals presented. As Victor Hugo, noted French poet and novelist, once said “All the forces in the world are not as powerful as an idea whose time has come.” Whether or not push on agriculture and rural economy is one such idea is too early to pronounce verdict on; the euphoria created by enthusiast and cheerleaders notwithstanding.

Need of such push was highly and rightfully craved and their deniability in the budget proposals would have reflected severest of insensitivity of a kind on the part of polity. The looming distress in the sector was too razor sharp to be deferred. Any journey ahead without settling and fixing it first would have been fraught with consequences that any sensible being would shudder to even think of.

Push in the budget in a limited sense is directional and visionary; but in a sense of just one first right step. Provisioning of expenditure not an end itself and be it all. Let there be no mistake on that count. In the past, more the sloganeering, posturing and provisioning, more has been the pile up of the distress. This sector has been a sort of victim of drum beating, chest thumping and lip service and if the history repeats, the repeat performance will be at great peril. To be realist, the real action is yet to begin. Softer of the option ushered in, harder one to follow.

Having drawn home the caution, two or three challenges need to be highlighted. As it is said that devil is always in derails and this one is no exception. There are twin monstrous challenges ahead. That is the capacity to spend and spend it well. Our record, as a country, in both aspects, to say the least, is a bit of trash. Capacity of the states, where the real action will unveil, is in pith wanting and leaves much to be desired.

It is no great secret that spending apparatus in the country is archaic, inadequate, inefficient, irrational and mired in politically favored choices. States machineries have been woefully deficient even in timely utilization the present level of outlays. To expect the same apparatus to utilize amounts of the scale being provisioned is like asking for the moon.

Our capacity as a nation to spend and spend well has to undergo some real reformation of the whole architecture of spending in the line ministries. Federalism of the polity in the country makes the task further daunting as no one size fits all kind of reforms, centrally decided and delivered, are going to work. As the cliché goes capacity building is a process and not an event and there are hardly any quick fix solutions.

Silver lining in all this is the concept of competitive and cooperative federalism that is slowly but surely coming home with the states. With the new aspirational India, it is the governance and delivery structures that are more than anything else are ensuring seat of power. It is heartening therefore that more and more political parties in power or out of power in the states perforce strive to meet aspirations of people using better governance and better delivery structure. Enhancing capacities in the states have to be a big priority to translate increased outlays into outcomes.

Capacity building to spend and spend well will require a thorough overhaul of followings:

  • Processes
  • People
  • Planning
  • Procedures
  • Projects
  • Procurements
  • Plans
  • Polity
  • Panchayats
  • Paradigms

Use of technology in this process of change is going to be biggest enabler and every exercise of reorientation will take care to build new architecture around the technology only.

Good thing, in post budget discourse in the country, is that after some initial knee jerk negative reactions, the idea is being received well in the nation. Businesses and industry need to be given due credit for showing great maturity and receiving the idea in complete good faith. Usual feeling of envy is conspicuously absent; sectarian thinking is substantially diluted, perhaps nation seen before self, in great measure, for the first time.

What is the “idea whose time has come” that we as a nation are waiting with a baited breath? Push to agriculture and rural economy, if it materializes, is just a mean to an end. We have to be one nation and not two separate countries within it – Bharat and India. It is just unacceptable. Sun has to set in on this archaic mind set. On the horizon is the idea of new one Bharat. Let us welcome this. Let us be catalyst in its rise.

Beti Bachao Beti Padhao Abhiyan Anniversary – A leap towards gender sensitive society

Yogender-Malik
Author: Dr Yogender MalikB
Advisor Chief Minister Haryana
(Beti Bachao Beti Padhao)

 

First anniversary of Beti Bachao Beti Padhao Abhiyan is right time to ponder on some points related to holistic women empowerment. The aim of the programme is not only preventing gender biased sex selective elimination and ensuring education but also ensure survival and protection, empowerment and to create an enabling environment for bringing about social change regarding equality of girl child too. This means a combo of activities keeping in mind whole life cycle of a woman.

There have been lots of discussions and deliberation amongst experts on the root causes of this evil and even on strategy needs to be adopted to eliminate gender based discrimination from society. Lot many civil society organisations, NGOs, expert groups, religious organisations etc. have been working in this field since long. Role of media in spreading awareness has been commendable specially for this Abhiyan.

Amongst various causes cited for prevalence of sex selective elimination son preference, clan progress, property distribution, fear for security of girls and women have been prominently discussed. Many social customs and traditions are thought to propagate this discrimination.

Many strategies have been proposed by various experts, which range from harsher and appropriate laws, change in societal norms, change in discriminatory traditions and raising awareness amongst masses.

Elimination of girls after birth (Infanticide) has been norm in earlier days. However after advent of new technologies especially ultrasonology which is instantaneous and relatively cheaper, knowing sex of foetus in womb has become easier.

Strict implementation of PC-PNDT, MTP and Drug and Cosmetic Act apart from other important measures to motivate general public is of paramount importance in curbing the menace. We have realised that foetal sex selection is a big industry now and if we put pressure on one district, the industry shifts its base in nearby district. Due to this reason we have decided to run the programme in all 21 districts of the State. We have come down heavily on the syndicate and have registered more than 125 FIRs under various acts. This has led to a sense of fear amongst the criminals involved in such activities.

Action is being taken against quacks and other shopkeepers involved in selling fake sex selective medicines. We are hopeful to bring about positive change in sex ratio at birth in Haryana.

Though MWCD is the Nodal Ministry for implementation of B3P however efforts of health, education in particular and other departments in general are essential for its success.

Once born a girl requires good nutrition after 6 months of exclusive breast feeding. This will mitigate chances of under nutrition in them. The latest report of NHFS 4 survey states the number of children in age group of 6-59 months to be 71.7%. We have 29.4% underweight children in < 5 age group in Haryana. We can expect higher percentage of girls in these categories. So, our focus is on improving ICDS services and diet modification in Haryana. Similarly there has to be equal health seeking behaviour of parents for girl and boy child. Our infant mortality has reduced to 33 and under five mortality rate has reduced to 41, according to latest NFHS 4 survey. After pre school education in Angan wadi centres, we need to focus on 100% enrolment and less number of dropouts from schools. Balika manches and Man ki Bat in schools have brought about some factors responsible for dropouts in girls. NSS and NCC has been involved in the programme to contact drop out girls and their re enrolment with some fantastic results. Now we have 75.4% women in age group 15 to 49 years who are literate (NHFS4). Functional toilets are not only important for health an hygiene but have documented to be helpful in increasing enrolment and decreasing drop outs amongst girls. We are striving to achieve availability of functional toilets for girls in all our schools. Insecurity of girls has been cited a major reason for girls elimination. They require good secure environment at home and outside. Small kids have been sensitised bout bad and good touch and adolescents and adults about various legal security covers for them against harassment. Mahila Police stations have been established in all 21 districts of Haryana, keeping security of women in mind.

Various Khap panchayats have come out in open against menace of female foeticide. Many civil society organisations like Bharat Vikash Parishad are celebrating birth of girl child though initiatives like Anandotsav. Awareness rallies, Nukkad Nataks, celebration of birth/Lohri of girls, Film shows, Prabhat pheri, Puppet shows, Signature campaign, health camps /baby shows and Gudda-Guddi boards showing number of birth registered during the month and sex ratio of the village have been a regular features now for creating awareness amongst masses. The has been involvement of youth in the campaign in big way.

The last one year has witnessed increased discussions, debates and awareness on the issues related to women. This awareness had direct link with the political will demonstrated through launch of Beti Bachao Beti Padhao Abhiyan from Panipat on 22nd January, 2015 by our Hon’ble Prime Minister in 100 district, 87 of them being gender critical in turns of child sex ratio. Haryana had 12 districts in the list of 100. Starting the programme from Panipat was indeed an indication from Prime Minister that he is concerned about the Beti’s of India in general and Haryana in particular. He had a vision which he nicely articulated in his speech at launch. Chief Minister Haryana was present during the launch and he has taken this opportunity as challenge. In last one year i have seen some positive vibes in society for the programme. The indicators mentioned in guidelines released by ministry of WCD for deputy commissioners make this programme an achievement based rather than rhetoric. We are trying to take care of few more important aspects of life of women like indicator on skill development of women and on maternal and infant mortality also. This is important for the message to percolate down to community.

Our sex ratio at birth for the year 2015 has improved by 5 points from last year i.e. from 871 to 876 but sex ratio at birth for December month of 2015 has crossed 900 for the first time in the history of Haryana. I hope we will be able to achieve improvement in overall condition of Betis in Haryana and the country in days to come.