Public Investment in Young Children in India
This paper presents an assessment of the current situation in India with regard to public investments in young children. Taking into account some of the major concerns pertaining to the status of young children in the country, the paper makes a case for the Union Government and the State Governments to increase their magnitudes of investments in programmes meant for early childhood care and development. The issues of limited fiscal policy space in India and the consequent inadequacy of public resources for social sectors have been highlighted, since social sector programmes provide the larger resource envelope for targeted investments in young children. The paper also discusses briefly the problem of fund utilization in some of the important child-focused programmes in the country. It suggests that the State Governments need to be urged and enabled (with increase in the devolution of untied funds from the Union Government) to make long-term public expenditure commitments in social sectors, particularly in the areas relating to early childhood care and development. This would not be possible unless the fiscal consolidation efforts of the Union Government and States are accompanied with strong policy measures for increasing the tax-GDP ratio of the country.