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Female foeticide matter of deep shame: PM Modi on Women’s Day

PM Modi expanded the “Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao (BBBP)” campaign to cover all districts of the country and launched a new programme, National Nutrition Mission (NNM) from Jhunjhunu in Rajasthan.

india Updated: Mar 08, 2018 22:57 IST
Urvashi Dev Rawal
Urvashi Dev Rawal
Hindustan Times, Jhunjhunu, Rajasthan
Beti Bachao Beti Padhao,Narendra Modi,protection of girl child
PM Narendra Modi launches National Poshan Mission, at Jhunjhunu District in Rajasthan.(Himanshu Vyas/HT Photo)

Calling female foeticide a matter of “deep shame” and asking for a “mass movement” led by the mothers-in-law to protect the girl child, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday announced the expansion of the ‘Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao’ programme to include around 500 more districts in the country.

He also suggested linking efforts to end gender discrimination with those towards ensuring proper nutrition to children.

Modi, who was addressing a gathering of mostly women in Rajasthan’s Jhunjhunu, said if a mother-in-law takes upon herself and insists on having a girl child in the family, the country’s skewed sex-ratio (number of women per thousand men) wold not take more than two or three generations to fall in line with the mindset expected in the “21st century”.

“Everyone is equal. It is important that girls get access to quality education just like boys. Beti bojh nahi, poore parivaar ki aan, baan aur shaan hai (a daughter is not a burden but the pride of a family),” Modi said on a day celebrated worldwide as International Women’s Day even as he asked the country to take inspiration from Jhunjhunu, where, according to the state health department’s latest figure, the sex ratio at birth has improved from 880 girls per 1,000 boys to 955 girls per 1,000 boys.

Recalling the centuries of female foeticide in India, Modi said scriptures do not sanction foeticide but this social evil has taken hold in the 21st century society which is even worse than the 18th century when the girl was at least allowed to take birth before being drowned in a milk tub. “Things have come to this that to save our daughters we have plead with people with folded hands and spend money from the budget.”

The PM also highlighted the importance of proper nutrition in the development of a child and asked for “people’s participation” in addressing problems of malnutrition and female foeticide as “government budgets alone would not be sufficient”.

“Proper education and mass movement are required to bring about a change. Whether you criticize the PM, dislike him, say good things or bad things about him, my appeal to you is that when you hear the word PM, you should not think of Modi but of ‘Poshan Mission’,” he said while launching the National Nutrition Mission (NNM).

The Centre, in December last year, had approved the NNM to tackle malnutrition, low birth weight and stunting, with a budget of Rs 9,046 crore for three years. In the first phase in 2017-18, NNM will be launched in 315 districts, including 24 in Rajasthan

The mission strives to reduce under-nutrition and low birth weight (from 38% to 25% by 2022), bring down anaemia among young children, women and adolescent girls, and reduce the prevalence of stunting among kids. Modi said the state governments have made efforts to tackle malnutrition but so far it has been limited to improving the calorie intake. “The entire ecosystem has to be corrected,” he said while pointing out that 38% children in the country are malnourished and 54% girls are anaemic.

“Ignorance is the major reason for weak physical growth of our sons and daughters, and underweight births. Enough food is not adequate if the water is bad ... we cannot change malnutrition. Child marriage is another major reason for malnourished children,” he said, adding that timely medicine and breastfeeding at birth is a must but does not always happen.

On the day, the PM awarded Jhunjhunu and Sikar districts (from Rajasthan) along with one district each from eight other states for the work done by them in improving the child sex ratio under the Beto Bachao, Beti Padhao programme

First Published: Mar 08, 2018 19:14 IST