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Mainstream, VOL LX No 7, New Delhi, February 5, 2022

NFIW on Union Budget 2022-2023 - Preliminary response

Friday 4 February 2022


Press release [Feb 1, 2022]

The National Federation of Indian Women (NFIW) expresses its disappointment that the Union Budget 2022-23 does not reflect the existing socio-economic reality of our country. It is a budget for increased Corporate profit in the name of development and at the cost of people.

It is unacceptable that the NDA government headed by BJP considers women only as tools for electoral politics and not as citizens who contribute equally in Nation building. This is apparent from the speech made by the Hon’ble President at the opening of the Budget Session of Parliament yesterday and from the Union Budget today.

The much talked about ‘economic development’ resulted in not only job-less growth but job-loss growth of the economy. Poverty and hunger, anemia and malnutrition are at dangerously high levels. Large numbers of students are about to drop out of education because of the online education system. Women and girls are specific victims. Unemployed women are slowly but surely growing in numbers. All these facts are well documented in the reports of national and international institutions including UN and the Government of India.

But there is either no response or very meager response to these issues in the form of Budgetary allocation.

The much talked about, ‘Saksham Anganwadi-Poshan 2’, by integrating different schemes which are aimed at health and nutrition of children upto six years and adolescent girls and pregnant and lactating women, did not get any further allocation.
Ms Sitharaman, in her budget speech said that 2 lakh Anganwadis will be upgraded but there is no enhancement in the allocation. Once again the Finance minister remains silent on recognizing Anganwadi workers and helpers as workers and ensuring proper salary and allowances to them.

At a time when people are reeling under an extreme financial crisis with loss of income and high inflation, the huge cut in food subsidy is a cruel joke. This is a reflection on an insensitive and inhuman government.

The country is facing an all time unemployment crisis and the Modi government did not think that it necessary to allocate substantially for MGNREGA so that more work days will be provided to the distressed families in the rural India. With the current allocation, after deducting pending wages and other expenses, the remaining money will not be enough to provide even 25 days of employment to the job card holders. In many states the most beneficiaries are women.

Once again, as usual, almost all the social sectors are ignored by the Union Budget.
The women of India are in deep crisis; crisis of invisibilization, of denial of access to health, employment and education, of increasing atrocities and violence and cruelty, of caste and communal attacks, of polarization and hatred, of targeted social welfare schemes and programmes etc. The allocation for WCD and Gender Budget particularly Part-A remains almost the same, which is hugely insufficient.

Therefore, the NFIW demands immediate action, and that legitimate allocations should be made to address this crisis and ensure our Constitutional Right to a life with dignity. It is imperative that the government address malnutrition and anemia by strengthening universalizing the Public Distribution System guaranteeing provision of all essential commodities. The budget should create massive opportunities for women’s work and a safe and secure work environment and for making substantial public sector investment for health and education.

Aruna Roy, President, Annie Raja, General Secretary NFIW

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