A happy transition from dangerous red to pleasant pink

The history of colouring Kerala's budget pink actually began much earlier in 2008-9 and continued in 2010-11.

Dr Arvind Subramanian’s pink Economic Survey for India was followed by a truly pink budget by Kerala finance minister Dr Thomas Isaac. The budget which contained many innovative schemes aimed at addressing crucial gender issues that Kerala faces at present was peppered with interesting quotes from famous female authors and an instant poem by a tenth grader at a competition. The history of colouring Kerala’s budget pink actually began much earlier in 2008-9 and continued in 2010-11. But it was only last year ie, 2017-18 that Dr Isaac, for the first time, officially brought out a gender and child budget statement along with his budget document.

To quote from last year’s budget which was spiced with quotes from MT Vasudevan Nair’s works “All the cruel patriarchs and brothers in M.T's works either failed to see the tears of their nieces and sisters or mocked it. Even though women have moved from the kitchen to the centre stage, the atrocities against them are no less”. Consequently the two thrust areas of the first official GB statement was
1.Prevention of gender based violence, redressal and rehabilitation and
2. Skill development, employment generation and livelihood security.
This year the pink hue has deepened not only through its recognition of female achievements in the literary field but also through the variety of projects and extent of funds aimed at strengthening previous initiatives in addition to encouraging gender mapping, gender reporting, change in gender mindset of society, promoting women entrepreneurship etc.

Gender and child Budget, to put it simply, is not a separate budget for women or children but examines the entire state’s budgetary allocation through a gender and child lens. The purpose of such an analysis is to monitor expenditure and public service delivery from such a perspective as a means of mainstreaming women's and children’s concerns in all activities and improving their access to public resources. It consists of two statements – one related to gender and other related to children. The gender statement in turn consist of two parts- Part A and Part B. Part A includes schemes for which 90-100% beneficiaries are women.

An amount of Rs 916 crore (4.5 % of the total state plan outlay, excluding the plan of local bodies) was allocated for such women specific schemes in 2017-18 which increased to Rs 1267 crore this year (5.7 % of outlay). Part-B includes general developmental schemes where allocation for women is below 90 % and for which beneficiary number of women is distinguishable. The total outlay involved in this part was Rs 1399 cr last year ( (6.9% of outlay) which increased to Rs 1960 cr (8.9%) this year. Combining these two parts, a total of Rs.2315 cr ( 11.4% of plan outlay) was set apart for addressing gender concerns last year which increased to '3227 crore (14.6%) this year.

What sets apart Kerala’s initiative is also the eminence given to this statement in the Govt’s official webpage where this is displayed prominently along with main documents unlike that in Govt of India, which despite preparing such a budget statement from 2005-06, only includes it as one part within the expenditure statement. An unfamiliar person looking for GB statement in Union budget website may get lost in the search process whereas that in Kerala immediately catches the eye being tagged in the main page. Another distinguishing feature is the clarity in identifying amounts set apart for women in general projects which is reflected in the explanatory notes given in the statement which is again absent in the union budget. All these reflect the seriousness that Kerala Govt assigns to addressing women’s issues and give a truly pink hue to the state budget. Hope these will succeed in changing society’s mindset from a dangerous red to a gentle shade of pink or any other pleasant, pleasing colour for that matter.

(Writer is asso. professor, Department of Economics, St Teresa’s College, Ernakulam)

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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