In our evaluation of the Budget 2017, which was loudly touted as a #Budget4Women, and our examination of Modi’s New Year’s promise of a Rs. 6000 cash transfer to some pregnant and lactating women, we had pointed out that the “new” scheme was actually just a re-packaging of an existing Congress government initiated program. Upon further inspection, it appears that the newly re-branded program would actually do even less for women than before.
Under the old scheme, pregnant women above the age of 19 were covered for two live births. Now, due to lack of available funds under the current budgetary allocation, the coverage will only extend to one live birth. Furthermore, immediately after the new scheme was announced during the Prime Minister’s New Year address (which for some reason was televised in bars on New Year’s Eve and spawned several hilarious drinking games), the Women and Child Development Ministry had said that the Centre would provide 60 percent of the funds required, with the individual states providing the rest of the funds. They have now announced that the Centre can only provide 50 percent of the funds.
So what will it take for a government to take women’s health seriously? When even a woefully lacking #Budget4Women fails to make the necessary budgetary allocations for one of the few schemes it actually promised women at all, it says something super depressing about how seriously the government takes women’s health, and about how eager it is to capitalise on the brownie points it gets for pretending to care.