Sep 25, 2023

Leveraging the Union Budget 2023-24: Opportunities for India’s social sector

Shalini Talwar, Associate Professor, Finance & Economics and Research Lead, CISD, SPJIMR
Sukriti Anand, Nikore, Associates

India’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth touched 7.2% for the fiscal year 2022-23, making India one of the world’s fastest-growing major economies. To sustain this trend and achieve holistic growth, multiple stakeholders across the country, such as governments and civil society organizations (CSOs), need to work together to ensure the on-ground effectiveness of various action plans formulated for this purpose. The Union budget plays a central role in driving and supporting several such plans and schemes. In this blog, we explore how social sector organizations can harness government support through the schemes outlined in the Union Budget 2023-24.

What are the key pillars of government support for the social sector?

The Union Budget 2023-24 is characterized by fiscal consolidation and increased capital expenditure to sustain long-term growth. The total allocated budget expenditure (BE) for 2023–24 is INR 45,03,097 crores, an increase of 14.14% over BE for 2022–23 but only 7.54% over revised expenditures (RE) for 2022–23.

Under the first pillar of Human Capital Development, the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship (MSDE) are the primary vehicles for state and central government fiscal policy.

The flagship scheme under the Ministry of Education is the Samagra Shiksha Abhiyaan, which is an integrated scheme for school education covering the entire gamut from pre-school to class XII and subsumes the three schemes of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan, and Strengthening of Teacher Training Institutions.

The MSDE has the Skill India Mission, a composite central sector scheme that aims to empower the country’s youth to upskill themselves and secure a better livelihood. The Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana 4.0 (PMKVY 4.0) is the flagship scheme of the MSDE implemented by the National Skill Development Corporation. The Jan Shikshan Sansthan (JSS) scheme supports CSOs in establishing skilling centers to train marginalized youth.

Under the Health and Welfare pillar, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare is responsible for health and family planning in India. The largest allocation under this ministry is for the National Health Mission (NHM), which encompasses its two sub-missions: the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) and the National Urban Health Mission (NUHM).

The NRHM seeks to provide quality healthcare to the rural population, especially vulnerable groups, which includes improving the quality of life and service delivery of health programs in rural areas. Similarly, the NUHM is involved in strengthening healthcare systems in urban areas across critical concerns such as nutrition, reproductive health, neonatal health, and reducing the spread of communicable diseases.

The third pillar focuses on addressing Structural Inequalities. It is mainly delivered by two ministries: the Ministry of Women and Child Development (MWCD) and the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment (MSJE).

The MWCD is responsible for the welfare and development of women and children in India. Its flagship scheme, Saksham Anganwadi and POSHAN 2.0, aims to reduce the incidence of malnutrition in young children, teenage girls, and lactating mothers. Another major scheme is Mission Shakti, which was launched to empower women all around the country in multiple areas and promote gender equality.

Under the MSJE, various schemes focus on the welfare of scheduled castes, scheduled tribes, other backward classes, and persons with disabilities. One such scheme is the Umbrella Scheme for the Development of Schedule Castes, which supports scheduled caste communities by providing scholarships, skill development programs, and infrastructure development.

COVID-19-induced lockdowns severely affected precarious livelihoods across rural India, underscoring the need for social sector support in this area, making Livelihood Support the fourth pillar. In this regard, the Ministry of Rural Development’s Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme provides livelihood support through guaranteed employment.

With an aim to avoid critical infrastructure shortages related to water and housing amongst others, social Infrastructure accounts for the fifth pillar. The Ministry of Jal Shakti and the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs are the most relevant ministries under this pillar, with schemes such as the Jal Jeevan Mission (JJM), which seeks to provide safe and adequate drinking water through individual household tap connections, and the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana – Urban (PMAY – U) which aims to improve housing access in urban areas.

Scheme recommendations for the social sector

Based on these pillars, we recommend a few major schemes that social sector organizations can leverage to contribute to holistic development and socio-economic prosperity in India:

  • National acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (aids) and sexually transmitted diseases (stds) control programme

    Under this scheme, the National AIDS Control Organization frequently partners with Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) to carry out targeted interventions to spread awareness and prevent AIDS and STDs. This scheme witnessed a 41% increase over its 2022-23 RE.

  • Jan Shikshan Sansthan

    The JSS scheme is implemented through NGOs with 100% grants from the Government of India. It aims to help rural populations by providing technical and vocational training in skills required in multiple industries.

  • Mission Shakti – Swadhar Greh

    Under Mission Shakti, the MWCD is implementing the Swadhar Greh scheme, which targets women victims of difficult circumstances who need institutional support for rehabilitation. The scheme envisages providing these women shelter, food, clothing, health, and economic and social security. Under this scheme, NGOs can apply to create and run Swadhar Grehs with grant support from the government.

  • Atal Vayo Abhyuday Yojana

    This scheme aims to improve the quality of life of senior citizens by providing basic amenities like shelter, food, medical care, and entertainment opportunities. It encourages productive and active aging by supporting the capacity building of NGOs, local bodies, and the community.

  • These schemes provide multiple project opportunities for NGOs in various sectors, including health, education, skill development, and women and child welfare. The guidelines, eligibility criteria, and utilization technique for each scheme, along with examples of past projects, are described in detail in our full report here.

    So, how can we utilise these schemes efficiently?

    NGOs involved in vocational and technical training can benefit from the Skill India Mission and JSS schemes. NGOs working in the health sector can partner with the National Health Mission and the National AIDS and STD Control Program to improve health services and facilities, build capacity, and monitor and evaluate.

    To utilize these schemes effectively, social sector organizations must clearly understand the eligibility criteria, guidelines, and application process. Additionally, a well-defined project and budget plan and a monitoring and evaluation framework should be in place. Collaborating with the government and other private and academic stakeholders can also help scale up these organizations’ operations.

    To know more about the opportunities available for the Social Sector in the Union Budget FY 2023-24, read the Centre for Innovation in Sustainable Development (CISD)’s detailed report here.

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