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Allocation for Health, Education Not Enough: UN Official

Though the allocation in India's budget 2007-08 for health and education has been increased, there is scope for even more, feels Minar Pimple// , deputy director (Asia), UN Millennium Campaign.

"The government has actually committed six percent (of the budget) to education and three percent to health," Pimple told IANS in a telephonic interview.

This, he said, though marks an increase from the previous budgets, is still not enough from the UN's Millenium Development Goals' (MDGs) perspective.

"India still ranks 126th among 177 countries across the world in the human development index," Pimple, who oversees the UN Millennium Campaign in 11 countries in Asia, said.

He pointed out that the MDGs closely resemble India's National Common Minimum Programme (NCMP).

There are eights MDGs in all: eradicating extreme hunger and poverty; achieving universal primary education; promoting gender equality and empowering women; reducing child mortality; improving maternal health; combating HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases; ensuring environmental sustainability; and developing a global partnership for development.

Pimple said that in India, 54 percent of pregnant women are still anaemic as also 50 percent of newly born babies. Besides this, a large number of children are stunted at growth.

"Hunger, malnutrition and maternal mortality - these are the issues India need to address on an urgent basis if it has to move up the human development index," he said.

Asked if he was unhappy with Finance Minister P. Chidambaram's allocation for the health and education sectors, he said, "I am happy that the allocation for these sectors have been hiked. But I still see scope for more allocation in the health and education sectors. These sectors are a cause of concern for the UN."

He also said that inequalities in economic wealth have been growing in India in the last 10 years.

"The rich are getting richer while the poor are getting poorer. I don't see this budget addressing the problem of inequalities in economic wealth," Pimple, who operates out of the UN office in Bangkok, said.


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