Jagan Govt diverts huge money to fund Amma Vodi scheme

The Andhra Pradesh government has launched the Amma Vodi scheme, one of its major campaign promises and part of the Navaratnalu. Under Amma Vodi (which translates to ‘Mother’s Lap’), mothers or guardians of school-going children will receive an annual financial assistance of Rs. 15,000 per year. 
The scheme is intended to support low-income families in educating their children, and to increase enrolment and attendance of students. White ration card holders, who fall under the Below Poverty Line, are eligible for the assistance, subject to a few more criteria related to their economic status. 
The widely publicised and anticipated scheme, which is expected to benefit nearly 42 lakh families, was allocated a sum of around Rs. 6,455 crore in the state budget for 2019-20. This was nearly 20 percent of the total education budget of Rs. 32,618 crore. 
The government has diverted funds amounting to nearly Rs. 6,110 crore from various welfare departments towards the implementation of the ‘Amma Vodi’ scheme. 
On January 4th, multiple government orders were issued, sanctioning funds worth Rs. 568 crore from the Backward Classes department meant for Kapu welfare schemes, Rs. 3,432 crore from funds meant for other backward classes, Rs. 1,271 crore from the Social Welfare department from funds meant to be used for Scheduled Castes, Rs. 395 crore from the Tribal Welfare Department and Rs. 442 crore from the Minority Welfare Department.
The opposition has raised concerns over the diversion of funds meant for welfare and development programs specific to these communities. 
Nara Lokesh, General Secretary of the Telugu Desam Party and son of former Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu, has questioned the move, accusing the Jagan Mohan Reddy government of robbing marginalised communities of welfare funds for the much-publicised Amma Vodi.
While it could be argued that the funds are most likely to benefit children and families from the same communities, observers are questioning the impact of the move on infrastructure and livelihood programs.
Academic and political analyst Suresh Kumar Digumarthi, who teaches at the GITAM University's Hyderabad Campus, also says that the move could prove discriminatory towards the BC, SC, ST and minority communities as the government diverts their welfare funds towards flagship schemes to attract voters. “
The marginalized sections like BC, SC, ST are as important as mothers and children and education. Diversion of these funds to any other programs, even if they’re well-meaning and impactful, can be understood as further marginalization of these communities,” he says. 
“Amma Vodi was one of the important promises made as part of the Navaratnalu, the nine major promises made during the election campaign, apart from prohibition and pension hike. These are the promises which led to such a massive mandate for the party, and one of the major factors in securing the votes of women from low-income families. It is inevitable for the government to implement these schemes to avoid facing serious problems in the future,” he says.
In these circumstances, the government is forced to divert any of the limited resources possible to fulfill these promises, he adds. It has been the norm for political parties in power to attract voters with new schemes by diverting and managing funds, says Suresh. “In this context, grants for BC, SC, ST communities have always been used for political mileage without fulfilling the desired goals,” he says. 

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