Is Beti Bachao Beti Padhao Only A Publicity Gimmick?
Virendra Kumar, Union Minister of State for Women and Child Development, while responding to a question on Beti Bachao Beti Padhao scheme told the Lok Sabha recently that the government had allocated Rs 648 crore for the programme in the last five years, of which Rs 364.66 crore was spent on advertising and Rs 159.18 crore was disbursed to states and districts. This implies that 56.27% of the total fund was spent on advertising and 24.5%, was disbursed to states and districts. Sadly, this means most of the funds for the much talked about scheme was spent on only talking about it.
About the Scheme
Beti Bachao Beti Padhao, a much-needed scheme for a country like India, which has been struggling with a lopsided sex ratio, was launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi four years ago on January 22, 2015. It had two clear aims, first, to address the declining Child Sex Ratio in the country and second to address the related issues of women empowerment and aims to change mindsets to value girl child.” Three ministries, namely, Women and Child Development, Health and Family Welfare and Human Resource Development came together in this effort.
What the recent data shows?
The recent data released by the government show that over 56 per cent of the funds allocated under the ‘Beti Bachao Beti Padhao’ scheme from 2014-15 to 2018-19, were spent on media-related activities. This is a little over Rs 364.6 crore. Less than 25 per cent of the funds, approximately Rs 160 crore, were disbursed to districts and states. Also that over 19 per cent of the funds weren’t released by the government in the first place, that is approximately Rs 124 crore.
The recent data released by the government show that over 56 per cent of the funds allocated under the ‘Beti Bachao Beti Padhao’ scheme from 2014-15 to 2018-19, were spent on media-related activities.
The Minister’s response
When asked whether the scheme has failed due to lack of policy implementation, ineffective monitoring mechanisms and diversion of funds the minister responded in negative. He pointed out that the government had, in fact, implemented the scheme in all 640 districts, as per census 2011, in the country.
In his response, the minister elaborated that in the first phase of the scheme during 2015, the focus was on 100 districts. Further, during the second phase in 2016, the government added 61 more districts.
However, a closer look at the child sex ratio in these 161 districts, show that in 53 out of 161 districts, the Child Sex Ratio has actually declined since 2015. These include 32 out of 100 districts from phase one and 21 out of 61 districts from phase two. However, the child sex ratio has increased in the rest of the districts. When it comes to the Union Territories, the decline observed has been particularly sharp. For instance, in Nicobar, the Child Sex Ratio fell from 985 females per 1000 males in 2014-15 to 839 in 2016-17. In Puducherry’s Yanam, it fell from 1107 in 2014-15 to 976.