The combined expenditure of the Centre and the state governments in the social services sector increased to Rs 17.16 lakh crore during the financial year 2020-21, according to the Economic Survey. At Rs 17.16 lakh crore, the expenditure is 12 per cent higher from Rs 15.31 lakh crore (revised estimate) in the financial year 2019-20.
"Social services include, education, sports, art and culture; medical and public health, family welfare, water supply and sanitation; housing, urban development, welfare of SCs, STs and OBCs, labour and labour welfare, social security and welfare, nutrition, relief on account of natural calamities etc," the Survey for the financial year ending March 31, 2021, said. According to the Survey, the budget estimate (BE) on social services in 2020-21 by the general government (combined Centre and states) was at Rs 17.16 lakh crore, of which Rs 6.75 lakh crore was on education, Rs 3.51 lakh crore on health and Rs 6.90 lakh crore on other segments of the sector.
The expenditure on social services sector in 2019-20 fiscal was at Rs 15.31 lakh crore, of which Rs 6.13 lakh crore was on education, Rs 3.12 lakh crore on health and Rs 6.06 crore on others, as per the Survey. Public spending on social sector was increased in 2020-21 to mitigate the hardships caused by the pandemic and the loss to livelihood due to the lockdown, the Survey said, adding the year 2020 began with the once-in-a-century pandemic and the lockdown imposed to contain the spread of COVID-19 had an inevitable impact on the vulnerable and informal sector, the education system, and on the economy as a whole.
The development and welfare schemes being implemented by the government over the years together with the relief packages announced by the government enabled the country to endure the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and led to a V-shaped economic recovery, it said. During the lockdown, online schooling took off in a big way and the government introduced several measures to make online education accessible to all children, the Survey document said. Similarly, the lockdown period also saw the growth of the gig economy and increasing work from home in the organised sector, it added.
As schools remained closed, access to data networks, electronic devices such as computers, laptops, smartphones etc gained importance due to distance learning and remote working, the document said. As per Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) 2020 Wave-1 (Rural), released in October 2020, percentage of enrolled children from government and private schools owning a smartphone increased enormously from 36.5 per cent in 2018 to 61.8 per cent in 2020 in rural India.
The COVID-19 pandemic had put to test the health infrastructure of India. The pandemic brought forth the inherent strengths of the medical fraternity in effectively managing the spread of the disease. There are more than 1 crore COVID-19 cases reported in India, with a recovery of more than 95 per cent. To combat the COVID-19 spread, the government ensured the availability of the essential medicines, hand sanitisers as well as protective equipment including masks, PPE kits. However, the country lost around 1.52 lakh lives due to the COVID-19 pandemic.