Launching the “Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao” scheme on Thursday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi denounced the practice of female foeticide, saying such discrimination reflects “mental illness” and displays a mindset “worse than people in the 18th century”.
Modi also hit out at social mores, criticising the common belief that girls are “someone else’s property” and it is the boys who look after the parents.
“We cannot call ourselves citizens of 21st century by practising such a crime — we are worse than people in the 18th century when newly born baby girls were drowned in a bowl of milk. At least they allowed those girls to see their mother’s face, see the world for a few moments. We do not even allow that because we do not even let them be born,” said Modi.
Significantly, Modi chose to launch the scheme from Haryana, which has one of the worst sex ratios in the country — the lowest being in Mahendragarh, where there are only 775 girls per 1000 boys.
The PM also criticised doctors for using their expertise “meant to save lives for killing” and “betraying” society. He administered a pledge to the huge crowd that they would work towards ending discrimination against the girl child at all stages.
“The Prime Minister of this country has come to you like a beggar and is begging for the lives of daughters,” he said.
He also launched the Sukanya Samridhi Yojna (girl child prosperity scheme), under which girl children below 10 years will have bank accounts with more interest and income tax benefits. Parents need to deposit only Rs 1,000 at the time of her birth, followed by any amount in multiples of 100 thereafter, for the girl to get Rs 1,50,000 when she is 18 years old.
The “Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao” scheme will be initially implemented in 100 districts across the country, including 12 in Haryana. These include 87 districts where the child sex ratio is below the national average, 8 districts where it is above the national average but is showing a declining trend and five districts where it above the national average and improving. The last five have been selected so that the child sex ratio levels can be maintained and they can become models for other districts.
Haryana Governor Kaptan Singh Solanki, Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar, Union ministers Maneka Gandhi, Ravi Shankar Prasad, Smriti Irani and J P Nadda shared the stage with Modi. Bollywood actress Madhuri Dixit was also present to promote the drive against female foeticide.