Deaths By Self Delusion : Autopsy of Health Budget 2021-2022

by GoNews Desk 3 years ago Views 19770

Deaths BySelf Delusion: Autopsy of Health Budget 2
In the run up to the Union Budget in 2021-22 Finance Minister Nirmala Sitaraman held meetings with economic editors and reporters to brief them about the budget-making as all FMs do. But here the message was clear: “You can write safely that Prime Minister Modi has conquered Corona”, she reportedly told the reporters during one such meeting in early January. On January 29, while addressing 400 global business leaders at the Davos Summit online, Prime Minister himself went one step further: “We taught the world how to save humanity”, he thundered. It was carried as Breaking News by almost all Indian news television channels.

Courtesy: India Today

On February 1st, the Finance Minister presented what was dubbed as the ‘Atma Nirbhar Budget’ with claiming victory over Corona Pandemic: “India now has one of the lowest death rate of 112 per million population and one of the lowest active cases of about 130 per million”, she told the Parliament. Having declared this victory, she went on to list a series of proposals to the Parliament under ‘PM Atma NirbharSwasth Bharat Yojana’ with eight new schemes at the cost of Rs 64180 crores over the next 6 years, in addition to the National Health Mission bill.

This is where the Parliament, the people and the government itself was deluded into thinking that the country was prepared to face any crisis as it had witnessed during 2020 in Covid-19 pandemic. The death and destruction of human lives we witness today across the length and breadth of the country started that day as ministers lined up to congratulate the Budget provisions. No one – even the pink business papers known for their expert number crunching – detected the wool being pulled over the country through sleight of statistical gimmickry. The Finance Minister had pegged her allocations in the Budget 21-22 to 19-20 a year before the pandemic and not to 20-21 which was the real pandemic year. The additional allocation for PMANSBY can not be found anywhere in the Budget papers. Infact, the government had reduced the allocations substantially for the current year which is now witnessing a health emergency never faced by modern India.

Here is the real picture if we compare the Budget Estimates for 21-22 to Revised Estimates for Year 20-21:

  • Total Budget allocations for the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare were cut by 10.8%
  • Health and Family Welfare Budget was reduced by 9.6%
  • Health Research Budget was reduced by 34.4%
  • National Health Mission was increased by a mere 4%
  • Budget for autonomous bodies like AIIMS and ICMR was increased by 10%
  • Other expenditures on Covid-19 were slashed by as much as 59.1%

It was the last point which is worth talking about as it contained Rs 14217 cr extra allocation to fight Covid-19 pandemic which the government thought it did not need in year 21-22. There were no new allocations to create an infrastructure to fight another wave of pandemic which has broken the back of the country today. The central government allocations were only 2.6% of the Union Budget and 1.1% of the GDP which we boasted to increase to 2.5% by year 2025.

All the state governments took a cue from this “The Pandemic is Over” theme and they too had no fresh allocations for preparing for a second wave of Corona and now quibble with the centre for ensuring supply of oxygen and extra beds needed so badly to save lives. This has left everyone scampering as today the number of active Covid19 cases are 250% more than they were at the peak of 2020 disaster.

As pictures of overflowing hospitals and cremation grounds fill the pages of newspapers and beamed on the news channels, a drive through Delhi will reveal a different picture – of hoardings thanking the Prime Minister for “giving a gift” to all Indian of Covid vaccines, which have still not reached even 10% of the country’s adult population. Such artful conduct in self-delusion has led to a situation where the remotest of districts – LahaulSpiti in Himachal Pradesh and Surguja in Chhattisgarh – are now among the top 10 areas reporting highest rise of cases, and deaths by Covid.

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