In a display of gender generosity, the Assam government has doled out fixed deposit certificates to 2000 girls belonging to economically weaker sections while announcing a pension scheme for unmarried women aged 45 years or more.
A year after the Majoni (little girl) scheme was launched, Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi formally distributed FDs of Rs 5,000 each to 2000 girls from Kamrup and Kamrup Metro districts on Wednesday evening.
The FD, gifted on condition that parents allow their daughters to study beyond puberty, can be encashed when a beneficiary turns 18. The money is expected to grow to Rs 25,000-30,000 by that time to fund each girl's education in government-run institutes.
"If a society has to march ahead, the girl child has to be nurtured and taken care of in the formative years so that they becoming economically independent at 18," Gogoi said while handing out the FDs. "We want to wipe out illiteracy among the womenfolk and to prevent early marriage, and this can done if their education is ensured."
According to the 2001 census, Assam's literacy rate is 64.28 per cent. But while the male literacy rate is 71.93 per cent, only 56.03 per cent females are literate. Most girls in the state drop out between classes V and X.
Underscoring the need for birth control - Majoni is indirectly aimed at keeping the family size small - Gogoi said his government would consider raising the FD amount if revenue realization increases. The scheme is expected to cost the government Rs 150 crore for nearly 2.80 lakh girls born every year.
According to Social Welfare Minister Akon Bora, the FD scheme would be extended to 25,000 girls in each of Assam's 27 districts from next month. "We have also decided to launch by December 15 three new schemes for women belonging to poor families," he said.
Besides a pension scheme for unmarried women aged 45 years or more, the government would be doling out Rs 10,000 to each BPL widow and Rs 4000 to a pregnant woman from economically disadvantaged communities.