New Delhi: A week after Union women and child development (WCD) minister Maneka Gandhi announced the expansion of the Beti Bachao Beti Padhao scheme to 61 more districts, the government on Wednesday listed these districts spread across 11 states.
Gujarat, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, NCT of Delhi, Punjab, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Uttrakhand are the 11 states where the scheme has been expanded.
Initially implemented in 100 districts across the country, the scheme was launched on 22 January 2015 in Haryana’s Panipat district by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The scheme aims at improving the trend of declining child sex ratio (CSR) in the country—which, according to Census 2011 data, has plummeted from 945 in 1991 to 927 in 2001 and 918 in 2011—and promoting gender equality.
Among the 61 chosen districts, the maximum are from Uttar Pradesh (11), which already has 10 districts under the scheme, and has a CSR of 902 as per Census 2011. As for Jammu and Kashmir, which has a CSR of 862, the number of districts added has doubled from five in 2015 to 10 in 2016. Rajasthan, on the other hand, saw the sharpest fall in the number of districts chosen from 10 in 2015 to only four in the current round of expansion, even though its CSR stands at 888, as per Census 2011.
In the initial round of selection, maximum districts were chosen from Haryana, which has the worst CSR at 834, as per the 2011 Census. However, in the recent expansion, eight districts have been selected as opposed to 12 in 2015. This reduction can be attributed to the rise in the state’s sex ratio at birth.
In January 2016, Haryana chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar had said that the state’s sex ratio at birth had crossed the 900 mark and touched 903 in December, for the first time in a decade.
A year-end review report by the WCD ministry released in December 2015 noted that more than 50% of the 100 districts had showed signs of improvement after the scheme’s implementation.
Activists working with the scheme have welcomed its expansion, but they also want the government’s focus to shift from propaganda to women’s empowerment.
“This move will definitely help as it will make the scheme more inclusive. But adding more districts will also mean an increase in the budget and its proper allocation. The last one year has been all about sloganeering and pasting posters. Now that people are aware of Beti Bachao, the government should work towards helping girls, especially adolescent girls, by providing better education, self defence, skill development and employment opportunities,” said Jagmati Sangwan, general secretary, All India Democratic Women’s Association (AIDWA).