Why should anyone except the mother have to cradle the child? As we celebrate another International Women’s Day on March 8, Panghoora, the government’s cradle in Amritsar for abandoned infants, is closing on a sad century, having received 93 babies, so far, 87 of them girls. If women are getting powerful indeed, and their status has got better, why don’t parents want to keep them as child?
Seeing more and more unwanted newborns being dumped in bushes and dustbins to be mauled by stray dogs, District Red Cross Society, Amritsar, led by the-then deputy commissioner, KS Pannu, had come up with the idea of putting up a cradle where people could leave these infants, assured that they will be provided for. That started on January 1, 2008; and today, the present deputy commissioner, Ravi Bhagat, and his wife, Indian Revenue Service (IRS) officer Tarundeep Kaur, chairperson of Red Cross Hospital welfare wing, lead the good mission of finding reasonably good homes for the forsaken girls.
Every time a child is placed in the cradle, a bell rings, as it did the first day; needless to say, it was a girl. The alarm’s still ringing; wish the parents are there to hear. “I feel depressed announcing it but the number of abandoned girls is rising fast, a sign that social fabric is disintegrating,” said Tarundeep Kaur, adding: “We have come far from the Vedic times when women were treated with respect.”
Babies do not live in Pangoora but are given up for adoption. “We are bound not to disclose the identity of the childless couples who adopt them, but the girls have gone into good families that want them and value them. NRI doctors adopted a girl who had congenital heart disease and the rich from Jalandhar and Ludhiana also gave the babies new families. (Charitable society) Pingalwara will bring up a few, and a Bollywood celebrity is raising a beautiful girl as own,” said a source connected with the mission. Today’s forsaken girl can be tomorrow’s star.
Until society looks down upon women and there are crimes such as dowry and rape, the parents will be scared of bringing up daughters, says Tarundeep Kaur. The proud mother of a girl says it is time to teach our sons to respect women. As a women officer herself, she vouches for the gender’s managerial skills and work ethic, and regrets that the glass ceiling still exists.