Haryana is relatively infamous in India for having poor sex ratios. Just last year a report suggested that Haryana had the 2nd worst sex ratio at birth (SRB) in the entire country. Sadly, this had been Haryana’s story for a long time now. In the early 2000’s Haryana’s SRB was a lowly 807. The story didn’t change much even till 2009 when the SRB was recorded at just 849 earning it the rank of 2nd lowest SRB among big states in India.
And then just a few days back we learnt about a very heartening news: the SRB in Haryana had crossed 900 for the first time in a decade. Haryana CM Khattar proudly announced that the sex ratio at birth in Haryana had shown an upward trend, as for the first time in 10 years, in December 2015, it had crossed the 900 mark with 903 girls per 1,000 boys.
We wondered what could be the cause of this sudden positive change in trend and we got responses from 2 daughters of Haryana who explained to us the underlying causes:
This is what Garima has to say:
Being born in the district of Rohtak, and brought up in Hisar by doctor parents, (a gynecologist mother), I very well know how the rural and business classes of Haryana are fond of a male child. My mother has struggled for years through the stress of refusing to do abortions. The reasons for unwelcoming a female child have primarily been – more financial burden, the carry forwarding of family name & business and the belief that boys take care of old parents while the girls are not able to.
Irrespective of individual political inclinations, people must come forward and appreciate this ‘focused assault’ on discrimination against girl children by the Haryana government. The state government implemented with zeal, the call for “Beti Bacho Beti Padhao” (BBBP) by PM, Narendra Modi, launched nation wide on 22nd January, 2015.
The formulation of state & district level task forces, leading to implementation of BBBP guidelines and strategies right up to village level seem to have been effective in bringing this change. As per the records and statements in Haryana Government and state WCD ministry websites, the CMOs, DCs and Panchayats’ cooperation and involvement was ensured, and villages which showed positive change were suitably rewarded.
Under the Pre-conception and Pre-natal Diagnostic Techniques Act ( PCPNDT) which prohibits sex selection, and Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, about 130 FIRs were registered since June 2015, and 7 people were even convicted. Sealing of ultrasound machines was done to punish the misuse of technology for gender selection.
Haryana government sought the cooperation of corporates, local NGOs, teachers, CII, FICCI by means of events to spread the general awareness of this campaign and bring sensitivity. Parineeti Chopra was appointed the brand ambassador of ‘BBBP- Call to Action’ by Haryana CMO. About 2500 awareness rallies and more than 1800 activities (like nukkad nataks etc), like the recent ‘Sashakt Beti Sashakt Bharat March’ were undertaken to effect change.
Schemes like ‘Aapki Beti-Hamari Beti’ which ensures life insurance policy for girl children, ‘Beti Bachao Asha Protsahan’ and ‘Sukanya Samridhi Khata Yojana’ encouraging people to invest in daughter’s name at higher interest rate and lower taxes, were launched. The overall perception of girl child being a burden is gradually undergoing a change at grassroot level. Haryana Govt also set up a ‘Haryana Kanya Kosh’ where individuals and organizations can donate for this cause.
Another daughter of Haryana, Veenu says this:
I have always believed that when something is done from heart, it does work. I say so today because something that seemed impossible for a decade has been achieved. It makes one curious as to what changed that we such an unexpected improvement. Yes, the government did change both in the centre and the state and new schemes were conceived.
When ‘Beti bachao beti padhao’ (BBBP) scheme kick started in January 2015, rightly from Haryana which has the lowest sex ratio among states, everyone was skeptical about what can be achieved through it. This project is believed to be something close to PM Modi’s heart. He has worked for betterment of girl child since a long time. He as a CM of Gujarat started ‘Kanya Kelavani Nidhi Fund’ from money generated by auctioning of gifts received by him. This money was used for funding of education of girls.
BBBP has many aspects with work spread over many ministries. It is one of the best mass awareness spreading drive which instills a sense of pride to have a girl child. One of the video of this campaign shows the effort of a ‘Divyang’ girl with congenitally missing arms. She not only learnt writing with her feet but also now teaches in a local school. Her struggle and courage inspires everyone that once encouraged females can achieve anything. Instilling such emotions are pivotal in creating awareness among audience.
I would not like to miss out mentioning another emotional initiative ‘selfie with daughter’. In June 2015, a sarpanch from Bibipur village in Haryana posted on facebook a selfie with his daughter. He also organized a competition for best selfie after observing that not many people of his village has pictures with their daughters. Even PM Modi has appreciated this innovative idea in his monthly radio address as well as in his overseas speeches. The Sarpanch himself believes that such appreciation boosts confidence of people working at grass root and spreads more responsiveness.
‘Sukanya Samridhi Account Yojna’ another aspect of BBBP scheme removes the traditional “burden” tag from the girl child. This account ensures proper opportunity for education, untroubled future prospects and provides a financial freedom to both the girl child and their parents. Building of separate functional toilets for girls in schools was another part of this amazing ‘BBBP’ scheme to limit school drop outs.
This scheme has uncountable merits which makes it a blessing for a girl child. As a female born and brought up in Haryana, I have not seen such all encompassing schemes and more over such a ‘will’ for their implementation. As I said in the beginning, something done by heart works, Khattar Government has worked a miracle by adopting the heart of a brilliant scheme. I am confident we are to see more such improvements in future. When I see a 5 year old telling his friend not to hit a girl classmate because “only bad boys hit girls”, I sense a change and see a bright future.
There is a new found optimism among Harayan residents and it can be seen in the CM’s statement as well. Khattar has now said a target to achieve sex ratio above 950 within the next six months had been set for the entire state. This may seem very ambitious but given their success in a short span of time, it is time Haryana takes up harder challenges and leads the way.