New Delhi: With more than 20 women finance ministry officials in the team preparing the Union Budget 2016-17, Indian women seem to have broken another glass ceiling.
This is by far the maximum number of women in any Budget team in the last six decades. The country's most-awaited financial document, prepared by this gender-balanced team, will be presented in Parliament on 29 February. Never before had women found such strong representation in this prestigious group of budget makers.
Besides top officials from the Department of Financial Services, Department of Expenditure and Chief Cost Accountant, 17 financial advisors out of 34 are women.
Here are the key women players:
Anjuli Chib Duggal, Secretary, Department of Financial Services (Ministry of Finance): Provides input on reforms, schemes, etc related to banking and insurance sectors and on agricultural credit to boost the agriculture sector.
Snehalata Shrivastava, Additional Secretary, Department of Financial Services (Ministry of Finance): Works in tandem with the secretary.
Annie G Mathew, Joint Secretary (Personnel), Department of Expenditure (Ministry of Finance): Important role in expenditure.
Aruna Sethi, Principal Advisor (Cost): First woman head of Indian Cost Account Service. It’s one of the divisions functioning in the Department of Expenditure. In terms of contribution in the budget preparation, it manages the multifarious and complex issues related to financial and cost management matters, management of fiscal resources, budget and budgetary control, etc.
Financial Advisors: Out of 34 financial advisors, 17 are women officers. While the financial advisors work in their respective ministries, they represent Ministry of Finance. Their role is to review the expenditure management and to drive home the point of efficient and effective use of budgets made available to the departments under their domain. They represent Finance Ministry in a particular ministry or department.
Is it a mere coincidence?
It may or may not be.
“It may seem coincidental. But the fact is the government wants women to head departments and government initiatives in more numbers. Incidentally, this time there are competent women officers in finance ministry and they have made valuable contribution in the budget making process. It’s the first time ever that there are so many women officials, including financial advisors. Women have a natural instinct in managing domestic budget with prudence and thrift. There is predominance of women power in the budget making exercise and their skills will prove to be helpful. This is also a step towards women empowerment,” a senior official in the Ministry of Finance told Firstpost on condition of anonymity.
According to the Finance ministry source, the Finance Secretary had two rounds of meetings in January with 17 financial advisors while the budget preparation was in progress.