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Is There A Patriarchal Undertone To The ‘Beti Bachao Beti Padhao’ Scheme?

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India has been the home of 1/3rd of the ten-million child-brides in the world. The desire for male-child as a legacy in India is institutionalised by existing hierarchical cultural understanding. This has led to female foeticide, female infanticide and also homicides of wife and daughters of the families.

In September 1994, PC and PNDT Act (pre-conception and pre-natal Diagnostic Techniques Act) were enacted to prevent female foeticide and ban pre-natal sex determination. However, such acts continue to be in practice outside the law and go unnoticed.

The Child-Sex ratio (CSR) in India acts as a key determining factor to understand the dis-empowering condition of women in Indian society. The CSR is majorly affected because of the decline of sex-ratio at birth. The existing socio-cultural biases continue to contribute to the deteriorating condition of girl-child in Indian society. In 2011, the child-sex ration reached an all-time low of 918 girls for every 1000 boys. Though the elected parties in power make similar kinds of promises around equality and empowerment of women, they fail to execute those differently.

What is ‘Beti Bachao Beti Padhao?’

India has the highest number of girls who are forced into marriage before the legal age of 18. Representational image.

The ‘Beti Bachao Beti Padhao (Save the Daughter, Educate the Daughter)’ (BBBP) flagship scheme was launched by the Prime Minister, Narendra Modi on 22nd January 2015 aiming to address and ensure the survival and protection of girl-child of the nation and providing equal opportunities for receiving education.

The project was a collaborative effort of three departments, Women and Child Development, Health and Welfare and Human Resource Development. This project attempted to address the existing social negatives which hindered the process of growth of girl children across the country.

The campaign attempted to initiate awareness to change the patriarchal mindset around girl-child and their protection from any form of violation. This scheme was introduced to strengthen the existing laws against the practice of sex-determination and sex-selective abortion. This kind of gender-sensitive policies and yojanas attempted to address unequal access to resources and opportunities.

BBBP, being a national campaign has been exposed to all states and union territories with a focus on 100 selected districts with low CSR.  In 2014-15, it was launched in 100 districts and in 2015-16; the scheme was expanded to additional 61 districts.

Gradually, the scheme was popularised through focused intervention and a mass-media campaign, in almost 640 districts across the country. The campaign is not characterised by any form of monetary incentives and thus not a DBT (direct benefit transfer) scheme.

Any attempts at capitalising the scheme are considered to be part of illegal activities. The campaign distributed its target groups in three sections, firstly ‘Primary’ (primary agents of socialisation), secondly ‘Secondary’ (adolescents (girls and boys), in-laws, medical professionals) and thirdly, ‘Tertiary’ (frontline workers, women SHGs/Collectives, religious leaders, voluntary organizations, media and the general public).

All the girls up to 10 years of age are beneficiaries of this scheme. It is significant and mandatory to create bank accounts to access this scheme. However, this account matures when the girl reaches the age of 18-21 while the family can take the amount out for her ‘marriage’. There is an already patriarchal undertone to this scheme which remains unaddressed.

India has the highest number of girls who are forced into marriage before the legal age of 18. While the programme aims at removing the existing social biases; it fails to deliver any concrete answer.

The government had allocated 100 crore rupees for the ongoing of the campaign and another 50 crores for women safety in public transport and other 150 crore rupees towards women’s safety in the large cities. However, the important question that still remains blurry is how much of it has actually been invested in these purposes.

To understand the unsafe condition of women in public transport requires no statistical data. The campaign also emphasizes on sensitization of boys from schools around this and inclusion of ‘gender-studies’ as a full-fledged subject in the core curriculum. However, it has not been defined what shall be included as part of the discipline.

The scheme emphasized on community mobilization by creating gender-sensitive awareness. There were separate sets of responsibilities adopted by three different committees. In order to strengthen the PCPNDT act, more numbers of institutional deliveries were recommended. In many instances, often these women are forced to drop their children by their in-laws family if the women bear a girl-child.

Why Are Girls Still Considered A ‘Burden’?


Keeping aside what the scheme aimed to achieve and what it actually achieved, we see a huge gap. The C&AG Report (2014-2016) suggested that in comparison to 2014-2015, the percentage of enrolment of girls in secondary education, in the selected districts, has declined.

According to the report, sex ration in the states like Punjab and Haryana has witnessed a decline even with the existence of the scheme. Though the guidelines suggest an amount of 5 lakhs were to be provided for the implementation of the scheme in the selected districts, a diversion of funds was also noticed.

The lack of a proper monitoring mechanism has left the implementation on the ground unchecked. While the campaign was supposed to open an anonymous online portal to file complaints against illegal activities under PCPNDT Act by 2014, its functionality remains questionable. There was a lack of immediate attention to strengthening this PCPNDT complain cells. Though the campaign bestows legal responsibilities on the monitoring authorities, it hardly got implemented and exhibited beyond the papers.

It has also failed to make a difference in ensuring child protection. The National Crime Bureau Data has revealed that crimes against girl children are still on the rise, with UP having the most number of instances from 2014 to 2016. Though the scheme invested a large amount to advertise and raise awareness by media, it did not reach to the required beneficiaries.

While 56% of funds have been spent in publicity, the C&AG Report reveals that less than 20% of the funds have been spent by the selected states and union territories under the scheme in the last four years.

The campaign, however, fails to address the root cause behind the female infanticide and how caste domination plays an inherent role. While female infanticide has been outlawed, it still continues to be an underground practice across the country.

The girls in this country are still considered to be a ‘burden’ in Indian society. This campaign can be identified as a perfect example for illustrating how the government is lying about the success numbers.

The scheme has, however, failed to facilitate what it has promised to the women of the nation. The infrastructural issues continue to remain unaddressed. The scheme fails to address the basic requirements that are essential for 100% enrolment of girls in secondary education.

Over the years, various schemes and campaigns are introduced by governments in power, as acts of tokenism, instead of addressing the coherent inequality and patriarchal conditioning of the ground reality.

The constitutional rights of women, Right to Live (Article 21) have been subject to violation even after the 70 years of independence. How are we to address this grave issue of concern?

How can these schemes address the systematic violence women are subjected to? The limiting understanding women’s identity only in relation to family and other aspects instead of their ‘individuality’ needs to be recognised, acknowledged and addressed. The intersectionality of caste, class, religion, gender, sexuality and ability needs to be included in the larger discussion and everyday conversation around ‘empowerment’.

Though this was one of the most ambitious projects led by the current government, it has failed to have an overall impact on the larger discourse of development. In order to establish a nation with strong constitutional rights, it requires diverse representation from various intersectionalities in the decision making processes.


Dr. Rashmi Rani Agnihotri and Prof Dr Milapatil, ‘A Study on Brief Information about Beti Bachao Beti Padhao Scheme’


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