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Dear FM, Here’s OUR 9 Ingredient Recipe For A Halwa Budget, Not The Aluva That It Could Be

Posted: January 24, 2021

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FM Nirmala Sitharaman served halwa to officials in the finance ministry and announced a budget app to mark the beginning of the budget season. But we’re worried.

While it’s still not time for that spring in the feet and love in the air, you can certainly smell the annual budget in the air.

Yesterday, the finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman performed the mandatory #halwa ceremony. She also launched a mobile app for the budget.

But may I ask madam finance minister, will the budget put some halwa on the plate of women and marginalized people of India? Or will your (by now) conspicuous red bahikhata disappoint them once again?

Twitter explodes in worry and laughter

As the news came in, twitter posts alternated between worry about the efficacy of the coming budget wondering what was coming the way of Indian tax payers this year too, and the mirth about the finance minster’s choice of sweet.

Halwa? In Tamil it is an expression used to say – to fool somebody, something that has passed into colloquial slang. To “give aluva”, especially in Bambaiyya Hindi means to make a fool of someone. And we’re now seriously worried.

As these tweets (and many more here) succinctly expressed the worry most of us have –

https://twitter.com/praxpriya/status/1353263770932404224

Hardship & suffering in 2020 due to the pandemic

We all know how the pandemic and the lockdown has forced crores of women and men out of their jobs. The horrific images of migrant workers and their families walking hundreds of miles on foot are still alive. Pregnant women gave birth behind hastily put up saree curtains on roadsides, walked with newborn babies in their arms, only to reach the safety of their villages.

Little did they realize that no work, no money, no succor awaited them there too.

How women lost most

Women lost not only their livelihood but their health also suffered due to the stress of running the household without any money. Many of those who were self-employed have still not been able to bounce back.

It is a globally accepted fact that the pandemic has impacted women workers far more disproportionately than men, and that’s why economists the world over are calling it a she-cession.

The pandemic also meant that patients and pregnant women were denied regular and emergency medical attention. Many govt hospitals were declared Covid centers, private clinics were shut and private hospitals were beyond the reach of people with minimal means.

9 ingredients we suggest for a really good halwa budget

The Prime Minister had announced a slew of relief measures like direct cash transfers and free rations for the poor and jobless people but were they enough? While the experts may want the FM to focus on the three R’s; relief, recovery and reforms, but what are the expectations and suggestions of people from the Finance Minister?

Here are 9 things that the FM can include in the budget to bring some cheer to the dismal lives of our fellow women, poor and marginalized communities.

  • Increase outlay on MGNREGA-the flagship scheme to provide employment in rural sector.
  • Facilitate frontline and health workers, ASHA workers with adequate infrastructure, job security, and monetary support. Ensure timely release of their salaries, provide them with a robust health insurance scheme and social security cover.
  • Invest in a universally available and affordable healthcare system.
  • Medical and Social Security cover for those suffering from long term effects of Covid 19.
  • Convert Maternity and Paternity Leave to Shared Parental Leave to facilitate women to return to work, remove employers’ bias against hiring women, encourage co-parenting.
  • Devise a policy to attract and encourage more women into the workforce; offer them incentives by way of cash or tax incentives.
  • Recognize the rights of female farmers and workers as legal entities
  • Invest in re-skilling of retrenched workers at their native places. Set up skill centres and ensure employment opportunities in the villages and towns to prevent migration to cities.
  • FM should also consider providing an app for reskilling and redeployment of retrenched workers and connecting them with employers at a place of their choice.

Do you have any suggestions for the finance minister? Please share them with us for your voice to reach the authorities and government.

Image source: YouTube

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