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The missed shades of “with the people, for the people”

The budget 2022-2023 provides some salient points for the social sector. While there seems to be some progressive actions for the sector, the lack of social innovation programmes represents a missed opportunity, in my opinion. Here’s my “personne lambda” thoughts on the propositions for the social sector:-

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1.Shelters and accommodation

A new shelter for the enhanced protection of children is important but with the rising cases of child abuse, neglect and abandonment, I wonder how many children can be catered for by one additional institution.

A model shelter for women victims of domestic violence is important and overdue. The CEDAW has been stressing on this aspect for years. My concern is about the empowerment programmes that will be on offer, the length of stay, a solid perpetrators’ programme, the admission criteria, the qualifications of staff, the employment and revenue generating opportunities.

Skills development programme for residents of shelters aged between 16 and 18 years is important but did we question the state of those residents who have been shelter inmates ever since birth, the quality of education that they are eligible to, the opportunities for their academic growth prior to the age of 16, the foundation, the very basics! We are missing on something very important here. 

2.Entrepreneurship

Mentoring of 50 women over 3 months to promote entrepreneurship is a basic approach; providing a monthly stipend of Rs 11,500 is important given the cost of living but why only 50 women? Which mentoring modules will be covered in just 3 months? Which kind of entrepreneurial sector are we talking about? I hope women in STEM and fintech.

3.Digitalisation Strategy

I applaud the public service digitalisation strategy with additional services application which can now be done online, including the application for social benefits but I question the “how” of this process considering the il(literacy) rate of people in regard to the use of IT. I question the system/platform itself which remains down for maintenance (or others), I question the use of data collected from people, I question the privacy of individuals and the ignorance as well.

4.Social Grants

I applaud the increase in the fund allocation to the NSIF from 900 million to 1.1 billion. This also brings me to reflect on the increasing social ills which we fail to talk about (sadly). NGOs need funds to operate, but I also question the mushrooming of several NGOs and associations. Who will be eligible to apply for funding? The fair share of addressing social ills by NGOs and charitable organisations has been thoroughly acknowledged in the budget but does injecting more funds imply that a decrease in social ills is anticipated or it is a cover-up for social chaos?

5.Sustainability

The sustainability roadmap looks promising. The development of an ESG framework is highly required and my only hope is that it does not only remain a good thing on paper!

I am content with the proposed measures but I was expecting some shades of “with the people, for the people”.

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