FM raises a toast to women, minorities

The Union Budget 2008-09 has seen funds for women, minorities and Scheduled Tribes go up substantially. One of the beneficiaries of a 24 per cent rise in allocations for the Ministry of Women and Child Development is a plan to prevent trafficking of girls for which the ministry has chalked out a scheme called Ujjwala. The Budget has kept a provision of Rs 9 crore for the scheme, following sustained campaign by NGOs and international bodies. The ministry's allocation of Rs 7,200 crore for 2008-09 is up from Rs 5,793 crore, the revised estimate for the 2007-08 Budget. A major part of the enhanced allocations would go to Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) that caters to the nutritional and healthcare needs of pre-school children and mothers in rural areas. The ICDS allocation is mainly meant for the hiked emolument for workers and helpers of some 6,284 Anganwadi centres across the country. Another Rs 200 crore has been allocated for a new scheme