Giving the details of the important social sector schemes launched by the government, the Finance Minister, Pranab Mukherjee while presenting an Interim Budget in the Lok Sabha, said that the emphasis has also been given to the empowerment of women as an abiding objective of the UPA government.
He also announced the launching of two new schemes namely Indira Gandhi National Widow Pension Scheme and Indira Gandhi National Disability Pension Scheme in the current year.
The Indira Gandhi National Widow Pension Scheme will provide pension of Rs 200 to widows between the age group of 40-64 years and Indira Gandhi National Disability Pension Scheme aims to provide pension to severely disabled persons.
To further strengthen social and economic inclusion of minority communities, Mukherjee said that the UPA Government has also announced the Prime Minister's 15 point programme for the welfare of the minorities.
Adequate allocations are being made to support this initiative. The authorized capital of the National Safai Karamchari Finance and Development Corporation is being raised from Rs 200 crore (Rs 2 billion) to Rs 300 crore (Rs 3 billion) to enable it to effectively carry out its mandate.
The scope of the pre-matriculation scholarship for children of those engaged in unclean occupations has been expanded and the rates of scholarships have been doubled in 2008-2009.
The annual adhoc grant has also been substantially increased by almost 50
percent as compared to the earlier rates.
The Finance Minister stated that the efforts of the Government and the financing institutions have led to rapid growth of credit linked Women Self Help Groups now numbering over 29 lakh.
To give further fillip, the Rashtriya Mahila Kosh will be strengthened by enhancing its authorized capital, Shri Mukherjee added.
Referring to the "Priyadarshini Project", a rural women's empowerment and livelihood programme launched in U.P. with assistance of IFAD in December 2008, the Finance Minister announced that the project will be implemented as a pilot in the district of Madhumani and Sitamarhi in Bihar and Shravasti, Bahraich , Rai Bareli and Sultanpur in U.P.
So far, 146 lakh persons belonging to Below Poverty Line (BPL) households have benefited from the revised and modified scheme "Indira Gandhi National Old Age Pension Scheme", which was launched on November 19, 2007.
In order to empower young widows in the age group of 18-40 and equip them to stand on their own feet, Mukherjee proposed to give them priority in admissions to ITIs, Women ITIs and National/Regional ITIs for Women. He said that the government will bear the cost of their training and provide stipend of Rs 500 per month.
Mukherjee also informed that 22 States and Union Territories have initiated the process to implement Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana for BPL families in the unorganised sector and 60.32 lakh persons have been covered for death and disability under Aam Aadmi Bima Yojana.