Budget 2018 decoded: What does it have in store for the women of India?
While, the verdict is still out on the Union Budget 2018 presented by Finance Minister, Arun Jaitley, this year the ‘budget briefcase’ has packed quite a punch for women of the country. The government is staying true to its promise of ‘women empowerment’. This year’s budget can be broadly looked at in two verticals: rural and urban. Presented on February 1 in the Parliament, this year there are quite a few reformative measures to give more teeth to girl power.
While India has accelerated on the path of development, the country’s women residing in rural areas still struggle. Most of them still cook food using the traditional means of wood, coals, and so on. Under the Ujjwala Yojna, these women can breathe a sigh of relief as the government plans to provide 8 crore free gas connections, a significant increase from 5 crores last year. Keeping true to the Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan, the government will construct 2 crore toilets across the villages of India. There are also plans to provide electricity to all rural areas.
The budget also emphasized on making women self-reliant. The Finance Minister has promised INR3 lakh crore (an increase of 37% from last year) to the Mudra Yojna. Under this yojna, women will be able to avail loans to start their own business. Addressing the Parliament, Jaitley revealed nearly 76% of the loan accounts belong to women. Around half of these accounts belong to SC, ST and OBC women. Considering these significant numbers, the government plans to encourage women to be financially independent and provide means of livelihood. This, in turn, will increase the standard of living, especially in rural areas.
Building on the government’s theme of women empowerment, employed females in the formal sector will now be able to take home a higher salary. This year, the budget has reduced the contribution of the women joining the formal sector to Employment Provident Fund (EPF) to 8% in the next three years, with no change in employers’ contribution. Earlier this was 12%. With this, the government has managed to hit two birds with one stone. On one hand, the female employees will get better wages, and on the other, employers will be encouraged to hire female employees with the incentives provided by the government.
This year’s budget reflects that the government has given due thought to the women of this country and has made an effort to make lives easier for females residing in rural as well as urban areas.