On a high after having earned praise from UNESO for her pet Kanyashree Prakalpa, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has now decided to give the beneficiaries of the scheme a “golden touch”.
She has placed an order for 16 lakh gold-plated bangles, with the word “Kanyashree” engraved in Bengali and Hindi, which will be distributed among the beneficiaries.
“It is kind of a badge, an identity card. When the girls will wear them, they will feel that they are a part of a movement, and a noble one at that. The bangles look elegant, but it is not mandatory for the beneficiaries to wear them,” Roshni Sen, principal secretary, Department of Social and Women Welfare, told The Indian Express.
At a cost of Rs 25 each, the latest Mamata initiative, will cost just about Rs 4 crore to the exchequer. However, the bangles, which as per Mamata’s orders have to be distributed by December 31, are set to fall short in numbers as the government claims that at least 19 lakh girls have benefited from the scheme.
Mamata had launched the Kanyashree Prakalpa in 2013 with an aim to reduce the dropout rates among girl students and also prevent their early marriages.
Under the scheme, the government provides an annual scholarship of Rs 500 to girl students who continue their study from 8th to 12th Standard. If the girl continues her studies up to the age of 18 years and remains unmarried till then, a one-time grant of Rs 25,000 is deposited in her bank account
The opposition parties, however, termed it a publicity stunt with state BJP chief Rahul Sinha saying the money could have better been used to provide security to girls. State Congress president Adhir Ranjan Chaudhury said Rs 4 crore “could have been utilised in some other way to benefit the girls”.