Though we extend highest regards to women and also say ‘Yatra Naryastu Poojyante, Ramante Tatra Devata’, even then the people do not ensure equal opportunities to girls. The condition of Haryana in this regards too was no different till some time back.
Limited Options before Formation of Haryana
Under undivided Punjab, Haryana used to be known as Southern Region. There was huge difference between the condition of the women in Punjab and the Southern Region. Not only women, the options before people of other sections of the society also were limited. The lack of political and social will were considered to be big obstacles in the progress of women. There was no change in the situation until the formation of Haryana on November 1, 1966. The development process in the state gradually began with the formation of the new state. Though the political parties in the state made so many experiments but the social, economic and educational condition of the women remained unchanged. The women work for more duration than the male members of the family. They also take less rest than the male members. However, during the regime of the late Bansilal the state witnessed fast development in the field of economic, education, electricity and roads. It definitely helped the women also to some extent. The women developed high hopes after Smt Indira Gandhi became Prime Minister. She formulated many schemes for their betterment, but their poor implementation did not produce any positive result. As a result child marriage or marriage in immature age continued. The high difference in the male-female ratio in the state itself shows that the successive governments did not take effective steps for betterment of the women. There have been some good efforts at global level for betterment of the women, but the governments in Haryana took no concrete step. Former Chief Minister Shri Bhupendra Singh Hooda talked much about development of women, but he too failed to act decisively.
Social Initiatives by Women
Finding no way, the women in Haryana themselves started taking some corrective steps. Meanwhile, both the Centre and the State witnessed change of guard and their collective push to the women uplift further strengthened the initiatives by the women. The initiative of Beti Bachao, Beti Padhato, started by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi from Panipat, proved to be a decisive step in changing the mindset of people. The objective of the campaign was to correct the sex ratio of 12 states including Haryana, especially 200 districts of the country. Under the leadership Chief Minister Shri Manohar Lal the campaign was further extended from 12 districts of the state to 20 districts. The positive aspect of this campaign is that the people of Haryana voluntarily connected themselves to it and the result of December 2015 shows a good improvement in sex ratio of the state. For the first time the sex ratio increased and it stood at 900 girls over 1000 boys. In January 2016, the ratio crossed 900 girls in 60 per cent of the districts. It was the outcome of effective action against the ultrasound centres, which indulged in detection of sex before delivery not only in Haryana but also in adjoining Punjab, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh. More than 336 cases were registered against the USG centres.
The biggest contributor in this campaign is the ordinary citizens who have actively joined hands with the government and the local administration. 98 Publicity Yatras, over 37000 awareness rallies, organisation of Lohari function on birthday of 4 lakh girls, formation of 15,000 Gudda-Guddi Boards, conduct of over 26,000 Prabhat Pheris, over 28,000 signature campaigns, over 70,000 health camps and Baby Shows were conducted as part of this campaign. The ceremonies mostly organised on the birth of boys like worshiping the well and beating plates are also now done on the birth of the girls. November 1, the formation day of Haryana, is now observed as Beti Diwas all over the state. Apart from it the national flag is hoisted on national festivals at the hands of girls only. The strict legal action has played a key role in bridging the gap of sex ratio in the state. Ensuring strict implementation of the PNDT Act, 336 cases have been registered against the USG centres and those who indulged in sex determination were sent to jail.
Apart from Beti Bachao-Beti Padhao campaign, some other schemes like Sukanya Samriddhi Bank Account scheme also proved beneficial. This campaign was also launched by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi from Panipat. The main objective of the campaign was to develop positive mindset about girls in the society. People were called upon to open such accounts for the girls below the age of 10 years in post offices or banks. So far, more than 2.75 lakh accounts have been opened. Chief Minister Shri Manohar Lal has also set up Haryana Kanya Kosh on International Day of Women. About Rs 56 lakh have been deposited in this fund which has to be spent on education and employment of girls.
Ladali Yojna has been merged with the ‘Apaki Beti-Hamari Beti’ scheme. Under this scheme, Rs 21,000 are deposited on birth of girls in economically deprived or SC families. On the birth second girl in any family, Rs 21,000 are given. This amount is invested in the LIC scheme and Rs one lakh are given to the girl on attaining the age of 18 years. About 29,000 girls have been covered under this scheme so far. Till June 2016, Rs 70 crore were spent on it.
Political Empowerment Need of the Hour
There is dire need of politically empowering the women both by the governments and the public. Of course, sufficient steps should be taken for ensuring employment opportunities. We also need to ensure justice in case of exploitation of women or atrocities against them. There is also a scheme to ensure safety to women in rural areas. In order to curb domestic violence, six new One Stop Centres are to be set up in the state shortly. By and large good steps are being taken in the state for women uplift in the women.
(The writer is Haryana Pradesh Convener of Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao Abhiyan)