Half of State population is kids, but Budget only 15%

Pioneer News Service
5 August, 2008

Ranchi: The Jharkhand Child Budget Analysis Report, prepared by the Campaign for Right to Education in Jharkhand (CREJ), has pointed out the harsh reality of poor priorities of the Government towards the Budget for children.

Out of every rupee, only 15.11 per cent has been allocated for the children in the State Budget between 2003-04 to 2007-08. The figure is particularly poor when viewed in the context of the child census in the State which forms 48 per cent of the total population. This was discussed in the wake of consultation programme organised here at SDC Hall by the CREJ in partnership with the HAQ: Centre for Child Rights and supported by the CRY.

According to Kumar Sanjay, key research person in the analysis report; even out of this measly allocation the Government is able to spend barely 50 per cent. "One can thus imagine the status of expenditure in the State towards the children," he said.

Out of 15.11 per cent allocation, lion's share is towards education to the tune of 13.26 per cent, development amounts to 1.68 per cent, health accounts for one of the low priorities of the Government figuring only 0.11 per cent of the allocation and worst is the case of child protection, where the Government has earmarked barely 0.05 per cent.

Surprisingly, even the allocation for education has also gone down during the span of five years. The highest allocation for education in 2003-04 was Rs 13.62, which came down to Rs 13.05 in 2007-08.

Eminent economist from the Ranchi University, Ramesh Sharan pointed out that at this juncture social audit was the need of the hour to analyse the utility of the Budget. "How actually the money earmarked under a particular head is spent? For instance, the concept of midday meal though intended to check school dropouts and draw more children to schools, today paints a grim scenario. It has been found that the paraphernalia related to the midday meal scheme occupies the classrooms and classes are held in the open or verandah.

The indicators of child development and health too reflect an alarming situation, whereby 50 per cent children are malnourished, 56 per cent have severe anaemia, more than 20 per cent children suffer from diarrhoea and acute respiratory functions. Only 10 per cent of the children of the age group between 12 months to 23 months immunised, while 33 per cent do not receive any immunisation at all.

"It therefore does not come as a surprise that Jharkhand continues to have the uncertain distinction of having one of the highest infant mortality in the country in comparison to any other State," said Kumar.

One of the other major areas of concern is low priority of the State Government towards child protection. The problems pertaining to the girl child like trafficking, sexual abuse and fake marriage are rampant across the State, the report says.

Prominent amongst those present on the occasion include social activists Sanjay Basu Mallick and Sitaram Shastri.

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