Media does a U-Turn, hates #SelfieWithDaughter as Modi comes into the picture

Little did Sunil Jaglan, a sarpanch in Haryana’s Biwipur village, know that his small idea would trigger off a global phenomenon. In Mid-June this year, Sunil came up with a “brilliant scheme, to involve community members in a campaign to raise awareness about selective abortion and welfare of the girl child.” It was after the Panchayat noticed that very few families had photographs with their daughters. He announce a Selfie With Daughter contest, with cash rewards. It was yet another “Progressive stand” taken by this village.

The contest concluded on 19th June, with almost 800 entries from the village, and some even from other states like Gujarat, MP and UP. Probably enthused by this response, PM Modi decided to endorse this “brilliant scheme”  and tried to make it a national event, when he talked about it in his latest “Mann ki baat”. But, the response was slightly different this time.

All the text in “bold” above, is directly from a piece written on Huffington Post India, on 13th June, about the Haryana contest. As you can see, Huffington Post then, thought this idea was a “brilliant, progressive scheme”. But as soon as Modi touched it, it became problematic. This is what Editor-in-chief of Huffington Post India, thought of this “Selfie with Daughter” idea, yesterday, once Modi espoused it:

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So from being a “Brilliant and Progressive scheme”, when it was done in Haryana, Selfie With Daughter became a “token selfie business, “cute selfie contests”, which creates a “mirage of buy-in without requiring any real commitment or inspiring change.” Of course, Huffington Post can always say that this is just the Editor’s “personal view”. But when we checked Huffington Posts’s coverage of yesterday’s event, we found it lacked any of the adjectives used for this same scheme when it was done in Haryana.

On our part, we believe it may not be a “great” idea, but it is definitely a good idea. It is very much like putting up rainbow DPs, in solidarity with same-sex marriage rights. And as Sruthijith rightly says, both these acts just on their own, do not involve any real commitment. But, The girl child campaign, is backed with much more solid initiatives. Firstly, it is backed by the “Beti Bachao Beti Padhao” campaign, which aims to generate awareness and improving the efficiency of welfare services meant for women, not just by “selfies” or “DPs”, but by focussed multi sectoral action in 100 selected districts low in Child Sex Ratio.

Thus Selfie With Daughter idea, is not just a stand-alone “token” activity, but part of a multi-pronged approach, which involves Government action on one end, and changing the mindset of people on the other. But of course, now that Narendra Modi, the man with the reverse-Midas touch has touched it, it has to become a “mirage”.

As for the actual hashtag #SelfieWithDaughter, it became an online rage, and trended worldwide. Sure many people may not have known what the agenda behind it was, but it was another chance for parents to come closer to their daughters.

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