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Gujarat budget ‘disappoints’ with highest 30% reduction in allocation for minorities

By Mujahid Nafees* 

On March 3, Gujarat Finance Minister Nitinbhai Patel presented the budget for the financial year 2021-22 in the Vidhan Sabha. The budget for the outgoing year was Rs 2,17,287 crore, while for FY 2021-22, Rs 2,27,029 crore has been proposed. Compared to the last year’s proposal, in FY 2021-22, there is an increase of Rs 9,742 crore.
However, if one looks at the budget closely, one would see the departments which are very closely connected with larger sections of society, have been neglected by the state government. It suggests that this government does not believe in the “Sabka saath, sabka vikas, sabka vishwas”, a Narendra Modi slogan.
The budget for agriculture and farmers’ welfare was Rs 7,423 crore in FY 2020-21; but for FY 2021-22, it has been reduced to Rs 7,232 core – a reduction of Rs 191 crore.
The budget for the Department of Health and Family Welfare was Rs 11,243 crore, but for FY 2021-22, the Finance Minister has allocated year Rs 11,323 crore – an increase of only Rs 80 crore. This as a time when the country is struggling with a pandemic. It may be noted that adequate resources were not made available to hospitals ever since the outbreak of Covid-19. It was hoped that the government would arrange more budget to strengthen the system of hospitals, but the government gave only lollipop to the common people.
In the budget for the Education Department, the expenditure per child in the Mid-Day Meal Scheme was Rs 4,387.75 in FY 2020-21. In FY 2021-22, the expenditure per child has been kept at Rs 4,310.34 – a reduction of Rs 77.41 per child. This is likely to affect 45 lakh children studying in government schools.
In FY 2020-21, Rs 101.35 crore was proposed for the welfare of the minorities, who fall under the Department of Social Justice and Empowerment; in FY 2021-22, Rs 71.61 crore has been allocated, a reduction of Rs 30.74 crore. This is the biggest reduction in the entire budget. Looking at this, it is clear that the government is creating a bottleneck in their development by discriminating against the minorities.
It seems, the government does not want the minority communities to move forward on the path of development. The Minority Coordination Committee (MCC) believes 10% of the budget should have been allocated under special allocation to bring the backward community forward.
In the scholarship scheme of the same department, Rs 575 crore was allocated in FY 2020-21, while Rs 549 crore has been proposed for FY 2021-22 -- a reduction of Rs 26 crore. This will have a direct impact on the minority community and Scheduled Caste children.
For another scheme of the Social Justice and Empowerment Department, Saraswati Sadhna Yojana, under which the minority community and scheduled caste girls studying in class 9 are offered bicycles, in FY 2020-21 Rs 80 crore allocation was made for 1,82,500 girls. In the new budget, Rs 71 crore has been allocated for 1,82,000 girls.
The FY 2020-21’s budget allocated Rs 147 crore for Yatradham development, while in FY 2021-22, it has been increased to Rs 154 crore. Ironically, the entire budget of this department is spent for one religion only, which clearly shows the discriminatory character of the government. The Finance Minister's speech mentions the development of temples along with their names.
In FY 2020-21, the Food and Civil Supplies Department was allocated Rs 1,271 crore. In FY 2021-22 it is Rs 1,224 crore, a reduction of Rs 47 crore. In current a difficult times, instead of increasing the allocation that would help food security, the loss of Rs 47 crore will directly affect the disadvantaged communities.
The budget for the Sports, Youth and Cultural Department was Rs 560 crore in FY 2020-21. In FY 2021-22 it is Rs 507 crore, a reduction of Rs 53 crore. This deficiency will affect the youth activities in the village. How will Gujarat play now?
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*Convener, Minority Coordination Committee, Gujarat

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