28th February 2006
The AIDWA expresses its disappointment that the second budget of the UPA government presented by the Finance Minister has not moved much in the direction of fulfilling the promises of the CMP.  As far as the vast majority of poor and working women are concerned, their expectations have been completely belied.

Most women in India work in the agricultural sector and many of them are farmers.  At a time when Indian agriculture is engulfed in a crisis brought on by the misguided policies of liberalisation, this sector as a whole has been almost completely ignored in the Budget and it is rural women who will be hit hardest.  Their access to institutional credit remains abysmal and there is no attempt to address the problem of crashing prices of agricultural produce by accepting the recommendations of the Swaminathan Commission.

The interests of working women in the urban and rural areas have been severely neglected.  It is shocking that at a time which is witnessing the migration of millions of women into the cities in search of jobs the outlay on working women’s hostels has actually been cut.  The expenditure on extending the ICDS scheme is also very meager and falls far short of universalizing it.

Perhaps the greatest disappointment of the Budget is the fact that there is not a single word of comfort for millions of malnourished and starving women, children and families.  While the CMP had committed itself to the strengthening of the PDS, the actual amount of subsidy for this has been reduced and there has been no attempt to transfer the subsidy to the consumers.  At a time when starvation deaths are taking place and when malnutrition of the poor, specially of women and children, in both urban and rural areas has reached frightening levels, it is reprehensible that even the instructions of the Supreme Court to ensure Antyodaya rations to all poor widows has been flouted. Inspite of the window dressing provided by promises of enhanced gender budgeting, the budget comes as a great disappointment to the Indian women, as their needs are not sufficiently addressed.