BETI Bachao Beti Padhao Scheme is a flagship programme of the Union Government to ensure protection and education of the girl child. It is aimed at preventing female foeticide despite sex selection having been outlawed in the country by an Act of Parliament in 1994.
Sex determination and female foeticide have been among prime reasons for the low child sex ratio (CSR), especially in several places of Haryana, where it was 834 according to the 2011 census, compared with the national average of 918.
Provisional data for 2022-2023 provided in a recent statement from the Ministry of Women and Child Development in Lok Sabha put the ratio in Haryana at 918.
Child sex ratio is the number of females per 1,000 males in the 0-6 age group. Since CSR is calculated on decadal basis by the Registrar General of India through Census, Sex Ratio at Birth (SRB) has been set as a parameter for the progress of the BBBPS.
CSR decline since 1961
According to the Ministry of Women and Child Development, the decline in CSR has been going on since 1961. “The decline from 945 in 1991 to 927 in 2001 and further to 918 in 2011 is alarming. The decline in the CSR is a major indicator of women disempowerment,” a statement said.
On January 22, 2015, Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched BBBPS to improve CSR and promote gender equality. It has since being implemented through multi sectoral intervention in all the districts of the country.
It is a joint initiative of the Ministry of Women and Child Development, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and Department of School Education and Literacy, Ministry of Education. Appropriately enough, the PM flagged off the campaign at Panipat in Haryana, which had the worst CSR.
In December 2016, state Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar announced that Haryana’s sex ratio at birth had improved to 903 — the first time in a decade that it had crossed 900.
Elsewhere too, local initiatives helped spur the initiative. For example, in Uttarakhand’s Pithoragarh, a Task Force was constituted at the district and block levels.
Meetings were held at these forums to develop roadmaps relating to CSR. Awareness-generation activities have been carried out to reach out to the community at a large, and rallies and street plays held to spread awareness.
In Mansa district of Punjab, an initiative was launched to inspire girls to be educated. They were provided with an opportunity to spend a day with a professional they aspire to be.
Active participation of officials and volunteers at district and block levels helped address the country’s skewed sex ratio. Between 2010 and 2014, sex ratio in India was 111.2 boys born for every 100 girls (890-900 girls per 1,000 boys), which then decreased to 108 boys to 100 girls between 2019 and 2021.
This translates to 925 girls being born for every 1,000 boys. It was among the findings in a recent research by Pew Research Institute.
Replying to a question in the Lok Sabha on July 21, Minister of Women and Child Development Smriti Irani stated that Niti Aayog has evaluated her ministry’s schemes, including BBBPS.
According to the evaluation report, she stated, the scheme “has been able to generate significant mass-mobilisation to eliminate gender discrimination and valuing the girl child and the scheme has been able to develop many good practices and community.”