Young advocates present Budget For Children charter to MoS Pankaj Chaudhary

The charter is the result of numerous local, state and national consultations of students with over 3,500 of their peers
Image is for representational purpose only | (Pic: EdexLive)
Image is for representational purpose only | (Pic: EdexLive)

The Budget For Children charter was presented recently to Minister of State for Finance Pankaj Chaudhary. It has demanded increasing the investment for all the schemes for children, particularly in PM-POSHAN (Pradhan Mantri Poshan Shakti Nirman) and raising the health budget, among others.

The charter is the result of numerous local, state and national consultations of students with over 3,500 of their peers across the country. According to a statement, the interaction was led by 15-year-old Ruksar Rehman, President, National Inclusive Children's Parliament, as per a report by PTI.

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. It has asked that 6 per cent of the GDP (public spending) should be utilised for education and 2.5 per cent for health, and this be reflected in the upcoming Union and State Budgets for 2023-24 in India.

The child advocates have also demanded an increase (5 per cent GDP public spending) in the budget for the health of Mother Earth. Currently, education spending stands at 3.56 per cent, which is just below the global average of 3.66 per cent. And health expenditure stands at 2.1 per cent as professed by India during the recently-concluded UPR session at the United Nations.

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. They have chiefly advocated for an increase in the PM-POSHAN budget.

Reactions to the budget
MoS Pankaj Chaudhary called it a great initiative. "I will place your suggestions before the budget teams," he said on Monday, November 28. He also advised the young advocates to seek budget-related interactions with other Ministries, including the Education and Women and Child Development Ministries, as per PTI.

Kumar Shailabh, Co-director, HAQ: Centre for Child Rights, stated that the share of children in the Union Budget has been on the 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 an 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," he added.

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