Bihar announces gender budget; agri sector gets maximum allocation

Adding to its list of firsts, the Bihar Government has called this year's budget a "gender budget'. The budget has been planned in a way to focus on schemes launched exclusively for the welfare of women, said Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi, who also holds the Finance portfolio, after presenting the state's budget on Monday. Since coming to power over two years ago, the Nitish Kumar Government has been focusing on women empowerment, and gender budget is being seen as yet another step in that direction. Bihar is the first state in the country to institute 50 per cent reservation for women in panchayat bodies. Other populist schemes like providing school uniforms and cycles to girl students and monetary help for marriage of girls from poor families have already been started. The highlight of the state budget this year, however, was the focus on the agriculture sector. Allocation for the sector was increased from Rs 133.45 crore in 2007-08 to Rs 191.34 crore in 2008-09, a raise of 43 per cent. The increased allocation is a reflection of the state's realisation that agriculture is the backbone of its economy. Another interesting aspect of the budget was an allocation of Rs 11 crore for more yoga training camps at district and sub-division-level hospitals of the state Government. Modi said that for six months, yoga training camps would be held at 27 district and 22 sub-divisional hospitals in the state. The state's budget, presented in the Assembly on Monday, was pegged at Rs 38,574 crore

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