The Economic Survey 2018-19 highlights the importance of investing in social infrastructure, especially education and health, as a key priority in the development strategy to achieve inclusive growth. “It is recognized that ending poverty and other deprivations must go hand in hand with strategies that improve health and education, reduce inequality and spur economic growth in a sustainable manner”, says the Economic Survey. India is working seriously to meet its commitments towards Sustainable Development Goals 2030. The Economic Survey 2018-19 was tabled in Parliament today by the Union Minister of Finance and Corporate Affairs, Smt Nirmala Sitharaman.
Trends in Expenditure on Social Services:
Expenditure on Social Services by the Centre and States increased from 7.68 lakh crores in 2014-15 to 13.94 lakh crore in 2018-19 (BE). As a proportion of GDP, the expenditure on social services has registered an increase of more than 1 percentage points during the period from 2014-15 to 2018-19 (BE), from 6.2 per cent in 2014-15 to 7.3 per cent in 2018-19 (BE). The expenditure on education, as percentage of GDP increased from 2.8% to 3% between to 2014-15 to 2018-19 (BE). Similarly, expenditure on health increased from 1.2% to 1.5% during the same period as percentage of GDP.
The Government has initiated several programmes like Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao (BBBP), Ujjwala Scheme, Poshan Abhiyaan, Pradhan Mantri Matra Vandara Yojana etc. to mainstream women and make women active agents of change in the society. Over time, women’s participation in household decision making has improved significantly. As per NFHS-4, participation of currently married women in household decision making has increased from 76.5 % in 2005-06 to 84% in 2015-16 at all India level. The financial inclusion of women has also shown a considerable upswing at all India level. The proportion of women having a bank or saving account that they themselves use has increased from 15.5% in 2005-06 to 53% in 2015-16. Gender budgeting has been taken up across ministries in a mission mode in order to ensure gender sensitive formulation of schemes and programmes.
Social Protection Schemes:
The Economic Survey highlights the large number of social protection schemes taken up by the government during the last five years as a part of its commitment to provide social security to the people of the country. Under the PM KISAN 2019, around 3.10 crore small farmers have received the first tranche of Rs.2000 and 2.10 crore farmers have got the second instalment, as on 23rd April, 2019. As on 30th December, 2018, 6.18 lakh people had benefitted from PMJAY under Ayushmaan Bharat and 39.48 lakh e-cards were issued. 5.33 lakh villages in 25 States/UTs have been declared Open Defecation Free(ODF) under Swachh Bharat Mission and the country will be ODF by 2nd October, 2019.
Similarly, as on 31st October, 2018, gross enrollment under Pradhan Mantri Suraksha Bima Yojana was 14.27 crore. Gross enrollment under Pradhan Mantri Jeevan Jyoti Bima Yojana was 5.57 crore as on 31st October, 2018. Under Pradhan Mantri Rojgar Protsahan Yojana, 12% of employer contribution to EPFO of the new employees’ drawing salary upto Rs.15000 per month is given by government for the initial three years. Social security schemes including Atal Pension Yojana, Atal Bimit Vyakti Kalyan Yojana, Pradhan Mantri Vaya Vandana Yojana, Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana among others have brought large direct benefits to the people.
According to the Economic Survey, as per Educational Statistics at a Glance (ESAG), 2018, the thrust on providing primary education has yielded results across social categories and gender. Over the years, remarkable progress has been made in respect of female participation up-to secondary level and Gross Enrolment Rate (GER) for girls has exceeded that of boys. For the first time, class wise and subject wise learning outcomes till class VIII have been developed to achieve quality in education. The Samagra Shiksha launched in 2018-19 aims at ensuring inclusive and quality education from pre-school to senior secondary stage. Initiatives such as Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao together with ICT-driven initiatives such as e-Pathshala and Saransh facilitate an increasing outreach of the education system. The Economic Survey recognizes that transition to higher levels of schooling, high drop-out rates at secondary levels and shortage of teachers as main areas of concern.
The Economic Survey states that Maternal Mortality Ratio (MMR) declined by 37 points from 167 per lakh live births in 2011-13 to 130 per lakh live births in 2014-16. The Under-5 Mortality Rate (U5MR) has declined at a faster pace during 2008-16 registering a decline of 6.7 per cent per year as compared to 3.3 per cent compound annual decline observed over 1990-2007. New initiatives to improve maternal and new-born health include LaQshya-Quality Improvement Initiative – to reduce preventable maternal and new-born mortality, morbidity and still births associated with care around delivery, Pradhan Mantri Surakshit Matritva Abhiyan to provide quality ante-natal care to pregnant women on the 9th of every month. To address the issue of affordability, alternative healthcare is an option. The National AYUSH Mission aims to provide cost effective and equitable AYUSH healthcare throughout the country by improving access to these services.
Skilling and Employment:
To improve the employability of the labour force, skill development is given emphasis through the National Policy on Skill Development & Entrepreneurship, the Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana, Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Kendras, National Apprenticeship Promotion Scheme etc. Introduction of skill vouchers- a financing instrument given to beneficiaries that enables them to sign-up for vocational education courses at any training institute, incentivizing industry to set up training institutions in PPP mode, involvement of local industry in curriculum development; training modules; provision of equipment; training of trainers etc. can go a long way in proper skill development as per Economic Survey.
To measure labour market indicators at more frequent intervals, the Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS) was launched to yield annual estimates of the labour force on employment and unemployment along with quarterly estimates for urban areas. As per EPFO data, around 8.15 lakh net formal employment was generated in March, 2019.
The quality of life of people can be substantially improved by improving connectivity, which will enhance their access to medical services, schools, markets and other social services. Under Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY) since 2014, around 1,90,000 km of rural roads has been constructed. MGNREGS has been instrumental and a guiding factor for tackling rural poverty and unemployement by providing employment to the rural poor and unskilled people. It has generated 267.96 crore person days of employment during 2018-19. Under Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana as against a target of completing one crore pucca houses with basic amenities by 31st March, 2019, about 1.54 crore houses were completed.
India’s march towards achieving SDGs is firmly anchored in investing in human capital and inclusive growth.