Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao Campaign and Sukanya Samridhi Yojna


Ajit Kumar AJIT KUMARWISDOM IAS, New Delhi.

PM Narendra Modi launched twin programmes of "Beti bachao, beti padhao" (save girl child, educate her) and "Sukanya Samriddhi account" on January 22, 2015, in a bid to encourage birth and education of girls and tackle the abysmally low child sex ratio of 918 girls for 1000 boys. The Haryana government has decided to observe a holiday in all the government and non-government schools on January 22. He also launched Sukanya Samridhi Yojna (girl child prosperity scheme), under which girl children below 10 years will have bank accounts with more interest and income tax benefits. 
Describing the desire to indulge in female foeticide as a "mental illness" Modi said that if this discrimination does not end it could cause a "terrible crisis" soon because of a lack of women in the country. Incidentally the PM launched the two schemes from Panipat in Haryana that has among the lowest child sex ratio in the country (837 girls to 1000 boys). The PM who slammed the audience for "double standards" in killing daughters but desiring educated daughters-in-law also chose to attack doctors who assist in sex selective abortions.It has been decided by the Government that Ministry of Women and Child Development shall be the Nodal Ministry for implementing this joint Scheme which will be implemented in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and Ministry of Human Resource Development
Objectives:
The objectives of this initiative are:
(i) Prevention of gender biased sex selective elimination
(ii) Ensuring survival & protection of the girl child
(iii) Ensuring education and participation of the girl child
Critical Components:
The Beti Bachao Beti Padhao (BBBP) initiative has two major components. i) Media Campaign and ii) Multi-sectoral action in 100 selected districts (as a pilot) with adverse CSR, covering all States and UTs.
(i) Effective implementation of PCPNDT Act is a critical and non-negotiable aspect of this
Scheme.
(ii) Empowering the girl child through education and creating an enabling environment
that provides equal access to education, health, employment/skill development etc. is
another critical component.
(iii) Enhancing the value of the girl child through awareness generation is the other critical
component. The Media Campaign, geared towards achieving this, would underline the
need to use communication that encourages equal value of the girls and emphasize that
she is not a liability.
(iv) Gender Equality: BBBP also highlights the need for gender equality enshrined in the
Constitution of India and brings out how neglect of girls and discrimination throughout
her life cycle leads to an unequal status for the girls. It also aims to break myths about
roles of men and women in society so that negative attitudes and behaviours steeped in
patriarchy changed.
Sukanya Samridhi Yojna under Beti Bachao campaign
The Prime Minister on January 22, 2015 also launched a small deposit scheme for girl child, as part of the 'Beti Bachao Beti Padhao' campaign, which would fetch higher interest rate and provide income tax rebate. 'Sukanya Samridhi Account' can be opened at any time from the birth of a girl child till she attains the age of 10 years, with a minimum deposit of Rs 1000. A maximum of Rs 1.5 lakh can be deposited during the financial year.
The account can be opened in any post office or authorised branches of commercial banks. "The scheme primarily ensures equitable share to a girl child in resources and savings of a family in which she is generally discriminated as against a male child.
In an effort to motivate parents to open an account in the name of a girl child and for her welfare to deposit maximum of their savings upto the prescribed limits, higher rates of interest at 9.1 per cent is proposed to be given on the deposits on annually compounded basis with income tax concession in this financial year, the statement said.
The account will remain operative for 21 years from the date of opening of the account or marriage of the girl child after attaining 18 years of age. To meet the requirement of higher education expenses, partial withdrawal of 50 per cent of the balance would be allowed after the girl child has attended 18 years of age. The provision of not allowing withdrawal from the account till the age of 18 has been kept to prevent early marriage of girls.
Background
The current Census (2011) data has revealed a declining trend in Child Sex Ratio (CSR) between 0-6 years with an all time low of 919. India has recorded considerable economic growth in the last decades. However, this could not be translated into improved gender indicators especially related to Sex Ratio and CSR. The issue of declining CSR is a major indicator of women disempowerment as it begins before birth, manifests in gender biased sex selection & elimination and continues in various forms of discrimination towards girl child after birth in fulfilling her health, nutrition and educational needs. The practice of sex selective elimination of the female foetus due to easy availability and affordability of medical diagnostic tools has been a critical
influencer of the skewed sex ratio. Further, there is little doubt that strong socio-cultural and religious biases, preferences for sons in almost all Indian communities has also shaped societal attitudes towards girls.
Given the complexity of the issue, there is a need for coordinated and multi sectoral convergent action including Information Education and Communication (IEC) & Behaviour Change Communication (BCC) Campaigns and community mobilization initiatives towards improving CSR, promoting the value of the girl child and highlighting the importance of empowering her with education. A campaign like the Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao can not only draw the attention of the masses to a grave concern like declining CSR but also lead to change of mindsets towards empowering daughters through education. The outcome of this Campaign is envisaged to ensure girls are born, loved and nurtured without discrimination, educated and raised to become empowered citizens of this country with equal rights.
Modern means of communications are very effective instruments of social change and even more so in recent times with the emergence of the social media and various other ICT tools like mobile phone based Applications etc., easily available to people. Effective use of media and communication offers numerous possibilities for reaching out to the billion plus population of our country.
 

Saturday, 24th Jan 2015, 09:43:14 AM

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