Spending on social services in India grew by 11.5 per cent to Rs 11,18,094 crore in 2016-17, but the country needs to strengthen social infrastructure by investing in health and education as it is emerging as a knowledge-based economy, Economic Survey said today. The mid-year survey, tabled in Parliament, also said that although India’s social policies have focused on welfare of the people, challenges remain in overcoming social and economic barriers to advance capabilities of the marginalised, women and other weaker sections of the society. The total expenditure on social services, including art and culture, family welfare, housing, urban development, welfare of SCs, STs and OBCs, besides health and education, was Rs 10,02,591 in 2015-16, it said. Expenditure on education has grown from 2.8 per cent in 2014-15 to 3.2 per cent of the GDP in FY17, while health sector saw it going up from 1.2 per cent in 2014-15 to 1.5 per cent in the last fiscal, Economic Survey said. “The expenditure on social services by the Centre and States as a proportion of GDP which remained stagnant in the range of 6 per cent during 2011-12 to 2014-15, recorded an increase of 1 percentage point during 2015-16 and 2016-17,” the survey tabled said. As percentage to GDP, the expenditure on social services was at 7.4 per cent during the fiscal.
While expenditure of education during the fiscal stood at Rs 4,74,672 crore as against Rs 4,23,171 crore previous fiscal, health sector saw expenses of Rs 2,21,466 crore compared to Rs 1,91,141 crore in FY16, as per the survey. “India is emerging as a knowledge based economy, poised for double digit growth, and needs to strengthen social infrastructure by investing in health and education,” said the survey authored by Chief Economic Adviser Arvind Subramanian. Stating that on the Global Hunger Index (GHI) 2016, India ranks 97 out of 118 developing countries with prevalence of stunting among children aged below 5 years at around 39 per cent, the survey said it requires effective investments in social infrastructure in order to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Besides, the survey said, India’s rank in Human Development Index (HDI) is at 131 out of 188 countries as per HDR, 2016, leaving much to be desired. It said the government is committed to achieving SDG for health that ensures healthy lives for all at all ages by 2030. Towards this, it has formulated the National Health Policy, 2017, which aims at attaining the highest level of good health and well-being, through preventive and promotive health care orientation.