More than four years have passed since our Prime Minister launched the Beti Bachao Beti Padhao programme on January 22, 2015. This initiative was taken to advance the progress of girls and women in the country. With a population of over a billion, India constitutes a considerable force in the global arena, and while women form half this number their welfare was not largely ignored before the initiative.
The reality of this programme however, runs contrary to its positive description by the media; data released by the government after four years of the launch of this programme shows that a whopping 56% of the funds allocated for this were actually used for ‘media related activities’. As if this was not shocking enough, less than 25% of these funds were distributed to the states for actual welfare purposes. In addition to this, 19% of these funds were never even released in the first place, and have likely been lost to the belly of the government. This programme was started with two goals in mind: the being to improve the child sex ratio in the country, and the second to change the mindset of the public about the girl child and empower her. But, with such skewered percentages of fund allocation, it hardly seems like the programme came anywhere close to realising the goals.
While this initiative was a commendable act that hoped to tackle a prevalent and deep rooted issue, the government could only have been given due credit if it actually proved to be helpful. Otherwise, this just acts as false hope which can further the suffering of people already facing societal wrongdoings.
To the government’s case, though, is integral to keep in mind is that the marketing of such a programme is indeed important. It ensures that people are aware of the scheme and thus participate to their fullest capacities. However, simply preaching and broadcasting the theory behind entire project and not doing anything concrete about it is useless and wasteful. Of course, it will be wrong to say that the programme did not have a positive impact. Reports by the government state how the sex ratio at birth did improve in the various districts where they had planned to implement this programme. Further, it also initiated a trend of increase in the visibility of the problems that girls face with the help of campaigns and marketing tools. However, this too was done in an incomplete manner as rarely were people given guidance on how they could help this cause.
Nonetheless, we, as citizens and as humans should also take initiative on our own to make sure that the way women are currently treated in this country ceases to exist. Programmes like these will come and go; they act as fruitful CSR for these groups, but it is necessary that their use of societal issues such as these do not end up undermining the importance of the issues. If any party which forms the government wants to implement any schemes and programmes similar to these, then they should ensure change that transforms the grass root level. One way to ensure this is transparency that should be maintained throughout the course of any programme that is introduced, thereby making parties immediately accountable for their actions.
This policy would have been more useful had it delivered concrete change instead of empty words, for the way in which our society treats its women is abysmal. Compared to men, women have to work harder to prove her mettle against a man competing for the same position. This by its very nature is impeding to the growth and harmony of a nation. We need not just words but actions– definite, useful, table-turning actions. We need to balance the skewed scales of how these two equal parts of society are otherwise weighed against each other. This is the only way our nation will progress and our decision making will improve.
Picture Courtesy- Feminism In India