There is scope for hope

Wherever than have been concerted efforts
at awareness among the common people,
at deeply convincing the younger people,
there have been tangible and concrete results.

The Silver Lining

Eighty kilometres north of Delhi, on a level plain lies Panipat where the battles of Panipat were fought in the 16th and `8th centuries. It was here that Prime Minister declared a war on the anti-girl-child forces in India, with the launching of his twin programmes ‘Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao’ and ‘Sukanya Samriddhi Account’. But it was not the memories of the battle that brought him there for this battle, but the fact that Haryana, having just 837 girls for 1000 boys, is among the states with the lowest child sex ratio. Prime Minister called the problem a ‘terrible crisis’ and ‘going back to the eighteenth century mind set’.

Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao (BBBP) has been implemented in 100 districts in the country. An annual increase of 10 more girls per 1000 babies born is targeted. A village that implements a ‘novel’ method to improve sex ratio will receive Rupees Ten Million. Each district will have a task force to implement the scheme under the District Collector and strict enforcement of legislations like POSCO (Protection of children from sexual offenses Act 2012) and rules to control PNDT (Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques and several measures are specified including rewards for informants about doctors involved in illegal abortions.

There are some more guidelines regarding education of girls and behavioural change of the society which will go a long way in raising the status of the girl and woman, if implemented properly. For example, School Management Committees should be formed to ensure that all girl children enrol and syllabus advocating gender equality should be included in the syllabus. Celebration similar to Lohri on the birth of a girl, giving equal property rights to girls, allowing daughters to perform last rites of parents, promoting simple or mass weddings, preventing child marriage and dowry practice, etc are also advocated.

All is not lost. The Census figures for 2011 assure us that if we make a concerted effort the tables can be turned. After the Census figures for 2001 were published, there was some effective action on the part of the Government, the NGOs and international organisations. The result of this action was seen in the figures for the Census of 2011. Figures for some of the worst-hit states registered an increase in the child sex ratio with figures for Himachal Pradesh rising from 896 to 906, Punjab from 798 to 846, Chandigarh from 845 to 867, Haryana from 819 to 830 and Gujarat from 883 to 886.