Increasing investment on all schemes for children, particularly on PM-POSHAN and raising health budget are among the demands in ‘Budget For Children’ charter presented to Minister of State for Finance Pankaj Chaudhary.
This charter is a result of numerous local to state and national consultations with over 3,500 of their peers across the country. The interaction was led by 15-year-old Ruksar Rehman, president, National Inclusive Children’s Parliament, a statement said.
The children’s charter of demands stemmed from a report they had submitted to the United Nations as part of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) process at Geneva and the Charter on Environmental Rights of Children in the lead up to COP 27 in Egypt.
The demands include that the 6 per cent promise for education (GDP public spending) and 2.5 per cent on health be reflected in the upcoming Union and state budgets for 2023-24 in India.
They have also sought an increase in the investment on all schemes for children, particularly the PMPOSHAN scheme. The child-advocates have also demanded an increase (5 per cent GDP public spending) in the budget for the health of Mother Earth.
Currently, the education spend stands at 3.56 per cent, which is just below the global average of 3.66 per cent. Health expenditure, on the other hand, stands at 2.1 per cent as professed by India during the recently-concluded UPR session at the United Nations.
MoS Pankaj Chaudhary called it a great initiative.
“I will place your suggestions before the budget teams, he said on Monday.
He also advised the young advocates to seek budget-related interactions with other ministries, including the education ministry and that of women and child development.
Kumar Shailabh, co-director, HAQ: Centre for Child Rights, said the share of children in the Union budget has been on decline over the years. While we continue to live amidst the COVID-19 crisis, the challenges for children have amplified multiple folds at all spectrums, he said.
“The loss of learning opportunities due to prolonged school closures, increased child labour, rise in crimes against children, high levels of anaemia and other skewed nutritional indicators pose overall threat to children’s well-being and safety. The upcoming Union budget 2023-24 must include these Covid induced vulnerabilities and focus on the last mile reach to secure all rights for all children,” Shailabh said.
The current investment in nutrition has reduced from 26 paise for every 100 rupees of the GDP spending in 2017-18 to less than char-aana (25 paise) in 2022-23, observed the children as they referred to a UNICEF analysis of the last Union budget.
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