Finance Minister P Chidambaram in his presentation of the Union Budget on Thursday had many women-related issues covered with a women's bank and a Nirbhaya Fund as the highlights.
With the crimes against women surging and posing a challenge to growth and progress in India, Chidambaram said the Prime Minister, the Congress President and he made a pledge to do everything possible to empower women and to keep them safe and secure.
The finance minister said, "Recent incidents have cast a long, dark shadow on our liberal and progressive credentials. As more women enter public space - for education or work or access to services of leisure - there are more reports of violence against them."
Saying women played multiple roles as a child, a young student, sportswoman, homemaker, working woman and the mother who needs support from the government, Chidambaram announced a monetary contribution to help them.
As tribute to the 23-year-old Delhi gang-rape victim, Chidambaram announced setting up the 'Nirbhaya Fund' of Rs1,000 crore for safety and empowerment of women.
To hide the victim's actual identity she was given a pseudonym Nirbhaya (fearless).
"The Ministry of Women and Child Development and other concerned ministries will work out details of the structure, scope and application of the fund," Chidambaram added.
To the roar of thunderous applause of the House, the finance minister also announced Rs1000 crore as initial capital for a women's public sector bank set to be India's first bank for women.
The FM added that this bank would be set up by October.
People seemed sceptical of both these proposals as they felt it was an opportunity for more corruption fro politicians and beaureaucrats.
There was a flood of reactions on Twitter to these two pro-women provisions in the Union Budget. Here's a look at some of them:
Nirbhaya Fund one more opportunity for our highly corrupt politicians...
— Everybody(@BeingHundustani) February 28, 2013
#Budget2013 nirbhaya fund makes no difference to my life! Some1 somewhere will make a lot of money out of it. Any real exemptions for women?— Neha Barjatya (@nehabarjatya) February 28, 2013
Dear Mr. FM , we need good laws for crimes against women & a sensitised system , not a Woman's Bank & Nirbhaya Fund.. #Budget2013— shruti (@vyasshruti) February 28, 2013
women's bank, Nirbhaya fund mean govt firmly believes it can't ensure women's safety and gender equality simultaneously. #Budget2013— Sanghamitra Mazumdar (@sanghamitra_m) February 28, 2013