Dr. Rajeev Bindal, Health Minister said today that Sex Ratio was an important indicator about the status of females in an area. He said that the increase in sex ratio depicts the social awareness among the masses which encourages women empowerment in the society. The declining trend in sex ratio creates social imbalance and also reflect the social backwardness of modern society. He said that the worst manifestation in our country of gender discrimination is female foeticide.
Unfortunately, female foeticide is committed not only by the illiterate and the impoverished. It is being committed in cities and among the educated and well to do. It is shocking that there are higher incident of female foeticide in more developed districts and regions of our country. Society has to be made aware that a girl child is a boon and a gift.
People should make to understand that imbalance in the sex ratio would lead to shortage of brides, because of adverse juvenile sex ratio, combined with overall decline in fertility. While fertility is declining in urban and educated families, nevertheless the preference for male child remains strong. For these families, modern medical technologies are within easy reach. Thus they are indulging in selective abortion and sex selection.
The Department of Health and Family Welfare H.P. collected the data of Sex Ratio at birth under Civil Registration System (CRS) for the last seventeen years is as in 1993, 898, in 1994,876, in 1995,883, in 1996, 879, in 1997, 858, in 1998, 849, in 1999, 784,in 2000, 857, in 2001, 856, in 2002, 866, in 2003, 877, in 2004, 872, in 2005, 866, in 2006, 885, in 2007, 903, in 2008, 904 and in 2009 it was 922.
He said that it was evident from the above mentioned figures that the sex ratio at birth had improved considerably in the State. He told that due to concentrated efforts of State Government, Himachal Pradesh registered a healthy increase in sex ratio at Birth as per recent CRS data of year 2009 i.e. 922 girls per 1000 boys. In year 1993, this ratio was 898 per 1000 boys.
He further said that an awareness campaign first of its kind in the country titled ‘Beti Hai Anmol’ was launched in the State by chief Minister on 15th July, 2010 from Gaiety Theatre Shimla and added that simultaneously, Campaign was launched by Health Minister from Dharmshala, district Kangra, where Kanya Pujan, was also done.
He said that the pledge was administered by Chief Minister to social workers, anganwadi workers, non-government organizations and others who participated in the launch function of Beti Hai Anmol at Shimla on 15th July, 2010 and Local Minister and MLAs launched Campaign at District-Level. He said that he also personally wrote 10000 request letters to Panchayat Members, NGOs and Mahila Mandals for their cooperation in this campaign. Similarly an inter States one Day Convention to take joint action to check female feticide was held on 25th July 2010 in which four States i.e. Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Uttarakhand and Haryana and one Union Territory i.e. Chandigarh participated. Health Minister of Punjab presided over this Convention in which Chief Minister was the Chief Guest. Health Minister, Himachal Pradesh, Chief Parliamentary Secretary, Health, Haryana and Senior Officers from other States and Himachal Pradesh participated.
He told that during the Campaign awareness camps, rallies, 75 folk media shows/road shows painting competitions and declamation contests were organized and 50,000 people signed pledge letter. He said that regular inspection of Ultra Sound clinics was being done under PNDT Act to deter sex selection and workshops and seminars have been organised to sensitize medical officers about PNDT Act.
Dr. Bindal said that State Government had decided to start the ‘Beti Hai Anmol’ Yojna for the BPL families. Under this Yojana, for upto two girls in each BPL family, the Government would deposit an amount of Rs. 5100 in the Post Office in the name if each girl at the time of her birth, he added. He said that this amount will get compounded over the period and will become a respectable amount by the time these girls attain adulthood and it could then be used by them of further their career prospects and to lead a life of dignity. He said that at present, the girls from BPL families are getting scholarships till 10th class in the schools. The scholarship will now be also given for plus two classes to these girls. For plus two classes, the annual scholarship would be Rs. 1500, he added. He further said that after the Campaign, the State Tourism Department gave special package named ‘BETI HAI ANMOL’ where bring a daughter and get a 30% discount in HPTDC Hotels. He said that incentive under Indira Gandhi Balika Suraksha Yojna is being given to couple for undergoing sterilization operations after one or two female child @ Rs. 25000/- and Rs. 20000/- respectively.He said that the expectant mother of BPL families would get cash assistance of Rs. 500, Rs. 600 and 700 for home delivery, institutional delivery in urban area and institutional delivery in rural areas respectively and added that women of both BPL & APL families will be paid taxi fare at Rs. 6/- per KM for both sides for carrying to health institutions for delivery. He told that delivery normal or caesarean was done free of cost for BPL and APL families in Government Health Institutions and Rogi Kalyan Samitis will bear expenses on their hospitalization, deliveries and medicines subject to admission in the hospital for 48 hours in normal and seven days in caesarean cases. He also said that Transportation expenses will be borne by Rogi Kalyan Samiti if expectant mother is referred to some other hospital and Rashtriya Swasthya Beema Yojna covers maternity benefits and free of cost delivery service including caesarean operation.
Dr. Bindal said that Health cards would be provided to all girls in age group of 11 to 18 years. This card will have all record related to health of girl and under Mukhya Mantri Kanyadan Yojna, financial aid of Rs. 11001/- for marriage of orphan girls or girls whose father can’t earn due to physical and mental disability or divorced women whose guardian’s annual income is not more than Rs. 15000. He said that under Widow Remarriage Yojna to encourage males to marry widows, amount of Rs. 25000 is being given and State Homes for orphan women or women having moral threat or sparated women or ekal women upto the age of 50 years where free food, education and training is given and after training Rs. 10000 for rehabilitation or 11001 for marriage is being given. He also said that assistance of Rs. 2500 to those women whose yearly income is not more than 7500 for self-employment and HP State Commission for Women has been constituted to listen and relieve grievances of women.
He said that under Mother Teresa Ashaya Matri Sambhal Yojna, financial aid of Rs. 2000 per year, for orphan women & children upto age group of 18 years was being provided to their guardian whose annual income is below Rs. 18000 for their bringing-up and free education to girls and under Kishori Shakti Yojna, girls of age group of 11 to 18 years are also being given nutritional diet and information on nutritional diet, health education, self-cleanliness and family welfare and skilled education. Under Balika Samirdhi Yojana Rs. 500 is being deposited in bank or post office saving account for girl taking birth in BPL families on request of their mother as post delivery grant. Also annual scholarship on different rates based on different classes is provided to girl of 6 to 18 years age group when she starts going to school.