India’s Budget Targets Women
Friday, March 1, 2013
At a time when India’s commitment to women’s rights is under scrutiny, the government’s annual budget released Thursday proposed a number of measures for women, including increased spending to improve their safety and a bank only for women.
These provisions are part the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance government’s broader focus on “inclusive” growth, through collecting more taxes from the country’s super-rich and increasing social spending. Finance Minister Palaniappan Chidambaram on Thursday stressed the need to lift up groups that “will be left behind” unless they receive “special attention,” as he allocated greater funds for programs for women, lower castes and tribes and India’s rural poor.
On Thursday, Mr. Chidambaram set aside 971 billion rupees ($18 billion) for what is known as the “gender budget,” a concept introduced in the 2005–06 fiscal year, which reflects the total spending on programs likely to benefit women. This represents a more than 10 percent increase from last year.