Five years ago, he pioneered a free bicycle scheme that brought hordes of class 9 and 10 girls to school. Evocative images of groups of girls in school uniform riding them to school became his regime’s credo for women’s emancipation.
Now, chief minister Nitish Kumar has made a new commitment to ensure girls stop being at the receiving end of molesters and other predators: he wants to bring every school of the state under the martial arts umbrella.
“The state government will ensure top class training in judo and karate to each and every schoolgirl so that they can master the art of self-defence”, Kumar said at the concluding function of a sports meet for kids on Thursday.
“We will provide at least one coach to each school to impart training to girls", he said, suitably impressed by a martial arts display by a group of 2,400 girls.
"Next year, I will be happy to see 10,000 girls display martial arts techniques together at Patna’s Gandhi Maidan", Kumar said in the presence of former test cricketer VVS Laxman, who was guest of honour.
Kumar said girls could use the judo and karate skills to teach a lesson to eve-teasers. "We are not only imparting education to girls but also empowering them with the techniques of high-caliber self defence", he remarked.
The chief minister said giving martial arts training to schoolgirls would create a new benchmark for other states to follow. "The government will bear the cost of the girls’ participation in international tournaments".
Recalling the success of his ‘cycle yojana’, Kumar said there were only 1.7 lakh girl students in class 9 when the scheme was launched (in 2007-08). Now, their numbers has touched the 6.5 lakh mark”, he said.