(Pervez Bari): A two-day National Convention on Union Budget 2013-14 is being organised by People’s Budget Initiative, (PBI), on December 5 and 6 here at India Islamic Cultural Centre (IICC), Lodhi Road, under the aegis of the Centre for Budget and Governance Accountability, (CBGA) .
The National Convention is being held to contribute towards the process of influencing the policy priorities in the Union Budget 2013-14. Apart from the opening and closing plenary sessions there will be five sessions which would be addressed by distinguished dignitaries who are experts in the respective fields of activities. On the first day besides the opening plenary session there will be three other sessions while on the second day two sessions will be held apart from the closing plenary session.
The opening plenary session will be moderated by Amitabh Behar (National Foundation for India). The speakers in this session will include A. V. Swamy (Member of Parliament, Rajya Sabha); Harsh Mander (Centre for Equity Studies) and Nikhil Dey (Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan).
The closing plenary session shall be moderated by Praveen Jha (Jawaharlal Nehru University) wherein K. Rahman Khan (Union Minister for Minority Affairs); Kodikunnil Suresh (Union Minister of State for Labour and Employment) and Abhijit Sen (Member, Planning Commission of India) would put their views on the subject matter.
At the outset on the first day Subrat Das, Executive Director of CBGA, will welcome the guests and delegates and throw light on the objectives of the National Convention.
Meanwhile, on December 5 the first session will be held under the subtitle: (i) Priorities for Critical Sectors in the Context of Union Budget 2013-14 to be Moderated by Avinash Kumar (Oxfam India). The speakers in this session would include: on Education - Praveen Jha (Jawaharlal Nehru University); on Health- Sakhtivel Selvaraj (Public Health Foundation of India) and on Water & Sanitation - Depinder Kapur (India WASH Forum).
The second session will be on "Priorities for Critical Sectors and Disadvantaged Sections of Population" which would be moderated by Nesar Ahmad (Budget Analysis Rajasthan Centre). The speakers in this session would be: on Rural Development and PRIs - Joy Elamon (Inter-cooperation Social Development India); on Agriculture and Food Security - P. S. Vijay Shankar (Samaj Pragati Sahayog); and on Dalits - Paul Divakar (National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights) and on Adivasis - Mahender Jethmalani (Pathey Budget Centre).
The third session shall be on "Priorities for Disadvantaged Sections of Population" to be moderated by Aleyamma Vijayan (Sakhi- Resource Centre for Women). The speakers in this session would be: on Women - Yamini Mishra (UN Women); on Children - Razia Ismail Abbasi (India Alliance for Child Rights); on Religious Minorities - M. Sajjad Hassan (Centre for Equity Studies) and on Persons with Disabilities - Javed Abidi (National Centre for Promotion of Employment for Disabled People).
On December 6 the fourth session shall be on "Public Policy Issues in the Context of Union Budget 2013-14" to be moderated by Praveen Jha (Jawaharlal Nehru University). The speakers in this session would be: on Unorganised Workers - T. K. Rajalakshmi (Frontline); on Climate Change - Aditi Kapoor (Alternative Futures) and on Taxation - Surajit Das (Dr. B. R. Ambedkar University).
After the fourth session there would be Group Discussions on Demands for Union Budget 2013-14 which will followed by fifth session on Presentation of Demands for Union Budget 2013-14 emerging from People’s Budget Initiative. The moderator shall be Hilda Grace (Centre for Rural Studies and Development).
Meanwhile, it may be mentioned here that the PBI is a coalition of civil society organisations from across the country, which works towards creating due space for people’s voices in the budget making process in India. Over the last six years, the membership of PBI has grown and more than 250 organisations from 20 states have joined this initiative. The CBGA serves as the secretariat of PBI.
According to Subrat Das, Executive Director of CBGA, PBI has been organising a “National Convention on Union Budget” every year since 2006, in which representatives of civil society organisations from across the country articulate their expectations from the forthcoming Union Budget. Since last year, this effort has been strengthened with the additional process of Regional Conventions on Union Budget across five regions in the country, i.e. north and central, south, east, west and north east. The expectations and demands shared in these conventions are subsequently presented as a Charter of Demands from the forthcoming Union Budget, which is shared with the Union Ministry of Finance, other Union Ministries that deal with social sectors and disadvantaged sections of population and a number of other key stakeholders. (firstname.lastname@example.org)