New Delhi: The government today allocated Rs 150 crore for the safety of women in cities and Rs 50 crore for their safety on public transport, as well as Rs 100 crore for the "Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao" scheme for the girl child.
The finance minister's Rs 200 crore plan to ensure women's safety may have been cheered inside the Parliament, but out on the streets women seem to be skeptical.
A woman using public transport told NDTV, "Every time announcements are made but nothing changes on the ground for us. Have things changed post December 16? (referring to the Delhi gang-rape that left victim dead)."
"There are times when drunk boys board the bus and we have no way to protect ourselves, hope they actually apply this time," said another commuter.
Perhaps the skepticism is not misfounded. In last year's Union Budget, the then UPA government had allocated Rs 1000 crore under the Nirbhaya Fund, named after the Delhi gang-rape victim. According to then Finance Minister P Chidambaram, the inspiration was the gang-rape of the 23-year-old paramedic student inside a moving bus.
However, a year later, the response to an RTI revealed that not a single rupee was spent from that fund. In his reponse to the RTI query Amit Bansal, under secretary at the Economic Affairs Department of the Finance Ministry said, "Parliament approved the setting up of a Rs 1,000-crore fund titled the Nirbhaya Fund, but the funds have not been used so far as the relevant schemes are yet to be finalised."
The skepticism only increases when the finance minister ends up allocating the same amount for the construction of a statue. Finance Minister Arun Jaitley today set aside Rs 200 crore for a giant statue of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel in Prime Minister Narendra Modi's home state Gujarat.
Critics have questioned the Modi government's priorities at a time India is struggling with an alarming spurt in crimes against women.
The Statue of Unity may have ambitions of being the tallest statue in the world, but when it comes to women's safety and security, are our politicians only interested in making the tallest claims?