Union Budget 2021: ‘Anything for students and youth of this country?’

Budget 2021: Several student groups and leaders have expressed their disappointment with the Union Budget

Union Budget 2021: ‘Anything for students and youth of this country?’ Representational image (Source: Shutterstock)
R. Radhika | Feb 1, 2021 - 6:40 p.m. IST
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NEW DELHI: Soon after finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced the Union Budget 2021 on Monday, the student community expressed its disappointment with the budget allocations that overlooked student needs.

After the COVID-19 crisis, students’ groups conveyed their disapproval and alleged that the budget 2021 is for “blatantly shifting” from the “idea of the welfare state”.

Condemning the budget, a statement by the National Students’ Union of India (NSUI), a student body affiliated to Indian National Congress, said that the budget “failed the expectations of the students”.

The budget 2021 showed a massive cut from the country’s largest school education scheme, Samagra Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA). The budget 2020 for schools saw drastic revisions downward in 2020 following COVID-19 lockdown. The overall budget for school education was also reduced by close to Rs 5,000 crore.

The budget allocation for higher education has also gone down from Rs 39,466 crore in 2020-21 to Rs 38,350 crore for the upcoming financial year.

COVID-19 and Budget 2021

The student body expressed concerns about no announcements on the eradication of the education gap between students living in urban and rural areas.

“A survey was conducted by Oxfam India in states like Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Odisha and Uttar Pradesh which states that 80 % of parents claim that education was not delivered to their children during the lockdown because of unavailability of devices and internet connectivity issues,” the NSUI statement said.

The former president of Jawaharlal Nehru University Student Union (JNUSU), Sai Balaji tweeted his disappointment on budget 2021: “Anything for students and youth of this country in Budget2021? Anything on jobs and raising employment opportunities in Budget2021? Anything on increasing the budget on education, scholarships and assistance to students in Budget2020? NOTHING!”

Union budget 2021: Privatisation of education

The Students Islamic Organisation of India alleged that the budget promotes “full-scale privatization, under the garb of divestment.”

“The annual outlay for the ministry of education has marked a sharp decline from Rs. 99,331 crore in the last year's budget to Rs. 93,225 cr (from 3.26% to 2.68% of overall expenditure), which is appalling at a time when we need to exponentially increase our spending to realize the potential of a millennial nation. this is highly disappointing, to say the least,” the statement said.

The NSUI statement also alleged that the “privatization of institutions will be a breach in India’s aim of inclusive education.”

The SIO also condemned the low budget allocation in centrally funded scholarship and fellowship schemes. “There's hardly any increase in scholarships and fellowships, which signals the continuing trend of deliberate mechanism to stifle accessibility,” it said.

The scholarship schemes targeting historically backward communities like post-matric and pre-matric scholarship schemes either showed a marginal increase or no change at all. The budget for the post-matric scholarship for Other Backward Castes has been reduced by Rs 115 crore. Similarly, the budgets for several scholarship schemes for minority communities has also shown cuts including the post-matric scholarship scheme for this group -- reduced from Rs 535 crore to Rs 468 crore -- and the merit-cum-means scholarships for students in professional studies for which the budget has reduced from Rs 400 crore in the current financial year to Rs 325 crore in the next. Budget 2021’s overall provisions for educational empowerment of minority communities has dropped from Rs. 2530 crore to Rs 2381 crore.

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