Intro: ‘Beti Bachao-Beti Padhao’ scheme launched by Modi is a timely step taken to eradicate a highly inhuman social evil, and truly empower the girls. The biggest challenge today is to change the mindset—instead of killing girls in womb, celebrate their birthday, educate them and arm with equal opportunities?
Haryana and Punjab may feel proud of Green Revolution and high per capita income, but they are worst in sex ratio. Haryana with 830 girls and Punjab with 846 girls against 1000 boys are at bottom in comparison to all India sex ratio of 914:1000, according to Census 2011. Even J&K, Delhi and Chandigarh, also with high per capita income, are poor on this front. If we say the cost of development is being paid by innocent unborn girls, will not be wrong. It is more evident with the fact that Janajati majority states like Mizoram, Meghalaya, Andman & Nicobar Islands, Chhattisgarh, etc are among the top five states in good sex ratio.
Steps to be taken
Needless to elaborate that prosperity promoted the evil of sex determination with the help of modern scientific innovations. In spite of stringent provisions in the PNDT Act against sex determination many sonography centres and nursing homes are still involved in this crime against humanity. PM Shri Modi asked all such doctors and nursing homes if female foeticide was the only way to earn money and would such money do them any good. “You have been taught to save the lives, not to kill innocents girls,” he said while launching the ‘Beti Bachao-Beti Padhao’ scheme from Panipat on January 22.
Female foeticide has been nagging all sensible people since decades with no fruitful change in the mindset of some people. A social movement was direly needed to eradicate the evil. Hence the nationwide scheme launched by Shri Modi is a timely step. Since Panipat is among 12 districts of Haryana which have lowest sex ratio, the scheme was launched from this district. “Today we own a very important responsibility from the soil of Panipat. This message is for every family, village and state,” Shri Modi said.
Referring to Shastras and the Vedas PM Modi said all those great books taught to respect girls and women. Beta-Beti ek Samaan (equal treatment of boys and girls) should be our motto. Have we ever imagined if present gender imbalance continues, what would be the repercussion? Where will you get your daughters-in-law from? We want educated daughters-in-law, but think many times to educate our own daughters. Educating daughters too is our responsibility,” the PM said.
Shri Modi had first spoken about this scheme in his Independence Day speech from Red Fort. Subsequently, 100 districts with low sex ratio were identified across the country. Five northern states (Haryana with 12 districts, Punjab with 11, J&K 5, Uttarakhand 2, Himachal 1 and Chandigarh 1) account for 32 worst districts in relation to sex ratio. Film actress Madhuri Dixit has been made brand ambassador of the scheme. On this occasion the PM also flagged off 72 Jan Chetna awareness vans which would visit various parts of the country to generate awareness on the issue. He also launched ‘Sukanya Samriddhi Account’ scheme and a postal stamp to commemorate the launch of the scheme which has to be jointly conducted by Ministry of Women and Child Development, Health and Family welfare and Human Resource. The Women and Child Development ministry will encourage registration of pregnancy through Anganwadi Kendras. The Health and Family Welfare Ministry will keep a close watch on the hospitals and the technique to detect gender before birth. The HRD Ministry will focus on girls’ enrolment in schools.
-Dr Ravindra Agrawal (The writer is a senior journalist)