Gonda celebrates new year with advent of ‘Khushi’

Gonda district magistrate JB Singh along with his staff, doctors and district administration officials arrived at the district hospital to welcome the birth of ‘Khushi’, the name given to the first girl child of the district in 2018. She is the youngest child of an upper caste family with two male children.

lucknow Updated: Jan 03, 2018 14:32 IST
Manish Chandra Pandey
Manish Chandra Pandey
Hindustan Times, Lucknow
Gonda,Uttar Pradesh,Baby girl
The celebrations were purposely planned in Gonda. It was reported among the country’s gender critical districts in the 2011 census.(Representative image)

Uttar Pradesh’s Gonda town, ranked India’s dirtiest in a government survey last year, joined the new year celebrations like the rest of the world.

The only difference was that the celebrations in this eastern UP town, home to some two million people, were held outside a hospital and for a cause.

Past midnight on December 31, Gonda district magistrate JB Singh along with his staff, doctors and district administration officials arrived at the district hospital to welcome the birth of ‘Khushi’, the name given to the first girl child of the district in 2018. She is the youngest child of an upper caste family with two male children.

The celebrations were purposely planned in Gonda. It was reported among the country’s gender critical districts in the 2011 census despite an increase in the sex ratio (921:1000) in 2011 census over the 2001 census figure when the ratio was lower at 906 females for every 1000 males.

“We had alerted the hospitals to inform us as soon as a girl child was born. The celebrations were part of the effort to create awareness around the government’s ‘beti bachao, beti padhao’ issue and we will all be proud when the girl born to parents residing in Bhadua Somvanshi village goes on to make a big name for herself later in life,” the Gonda DM told HT on the phone.

Despite increasing female literacy —27% in 2001 to nearly 47% in 2011 – the district fares poorly on another parameter: the open defecation free (ODF) mission. Many villages in the district are reported to be resisting efforts to build toilets, an issue that makes women who have to go out in the fields to answer the call of nature vulnerable to crime.

“We also created awareness on the ODF issue on the occasion,” a member of the district administration team present on the occasion said. The official admitted that despite growing awareness, cases of discrimination, exploitation and ill-treatment of girl child continue to be reported.

“Only last year, a family abandoned a one year old girl who is now in a child shelter home and such cases have been frequently reported,” said Ajay Srivastava, a local journalist complimenting the efforts of the district magistrate.

That’s why the bursting of fire crackers and distribution of clothes on Khushi’s birth were part of efforts by the district administration to promote and popularise ‘Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao’, an initiative of the Modi government at the centre.

“I have two grandsons, but I desperately prayed for a daughter this time. As soon as she was born we named her ‘Khushi’ to indicate our feeling. Girls are a blessing and the celebrations sponsored by the local administration that followed the birth of a girl child were indicative of the fact that we have indeed come a long way from my days when girls were considered a burden,” said Phool Kunwar, Khushi’s grandmother on the phone from the local hospital.

First Published: Jan 03, 2018 14:32 IST