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06 October 2011

Laws protecting girls & women to be implemented strictly: Chouhan

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‘Beti Bachao Abhiyan’ launched in Madhya Pradesh

By Pervez Bari

Bhopal: The day of Wednesday, October 5, 2011 will go down as one of the most memorable day in the lives of the girl child in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh as state-wide campaign was launched not only to ensure their honourable existence in this world but to empower them in every possible manner.

On this day, "Beti Bachao Abhiyan" (Save the Girl Child), was launched in all the districts of the state. A glorious welcome was accorded to more than 1,000 girls who reached the Chief Minister's residence in Bhopal, the capital of Madhya Pradesh, accompanied by their mothers to attend the campaign launching programme. All sections of society, voluntary organisations, heads of various religions, social workers and educational institutions took part enthusiastically in this massive campaign launched on the initiative of Bharatiya Janata Party ruled Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Mr. Shivraj Singh Chouhan. In-charge ministers launched this campaign in districts while "Beti Bachao Abhiyan" was launched in Vidhan Sabha constituencies by people's representatives.

At Bhopal, CM House reverberated with hustle and bustle of girls, who attired in their gala dresses made their presence felt to all and sundry of their importance in society.

Speaking on the occasion Chief Minister Mr. Chouhan asserted that full protection and honour will be provided to girls and women in the state by strictly implementing all the relevant laws enacted for their protection. He said that "Beti Bachao Abhiyan" which has been launched for ensuring daughters' protection, honour and empowerment, will meet with desired success only through the participation of all the political parties, organisations, institutions and all sections of society. This is not a political programme, but a social mission, he emphasised.

Mr. Chouhan performed Poojan of more than 1100 girls on the occasion of Navami during Navdurga Mahotsav on Wednesday. Hundreds of girls, their parents, heads of all religions and members of cross sections of society were present on the occasion. Chief Minister Mr. Chouhan's nine adopted daughters were also specially present.

The Chief Minister said that a three-pronged approach would be adopted for daughters' protection and their all-round upbringing viz. (i) increase in awareness, (ii) motivation and (iii) punishment. Various programmes are being organised in the state for increasing awareness. He will himself undertake "Jan-Jagriti Yatra" from Datia to Sewrha from October 10. He said that a separate programme related to "Beti Bachao Abhiyan" will be held wherever he will go in the state. He appealed to heads of all religions to express views about importance of daughters in their sermons with a view to bringing about a positive change in people's mindset. He also desired active participation in "Beti Bachao Abhiyan" from office-bearers and members of student unions. Several motivational schemes are also being considered. One of such schemes is being finalised under which those persons, who have only daughters, will be given pension at 60 years of age. Under punitive action, laws enacted for protection of girls and women will be strictly implemented.

The Chief Minister said that he got inspiration to launch this campaign after observing negative attitude in families and society towards daughters. He said that he has witnessed discriminatory behaviour towards daughters in families right since his childhood and had been deeply pained by it. He said that when he became MLA, he started arranging marriages of girls of poor families. The programme continued when he became Member of Parliament. After becoming Chief Minister, he institutionalised girls' marriage and it was started to be held officially. He said that Ladli Laxmi Yojna is also an important step in the same direction. The government is extending all facilities with a view to helping girls to move forward. Despite it, sex ratio is a matter of concern, especially in the urban areas and among educated families, he lamented.

Mr. Chouhan said that not only a positive thinking prevailed in the ancient Indian society towards daughters and women, but they had also commanded full respect and all the opportunities for progress were available to them. A negative thinking about them developed later in society. However, it is never too late to mend and people should rectify their mistake and do full justice with girls and women. He said that no injustice against daughters will be allowed in the state. Mr. Chouhan said that a convention of non-government organisations will soon be convened with a view to roping in their cooperating in Beti Bachao Abhiyan.

Earlier, Rajya Sabha MP and BJP state president Prabhat Jha congratulated Chief Minister Mr. Chouhan for launching "Beti Bachao Abhiyan". He said that Poojan of five lakh girls will be performed under the campaign. Mr. Chouhan has proved how power and administration can be effectively used for bringing about positive change in the society. Chief Minister is committed to ensuring women's empowerment and is leaving no stone unturned in this connection.

Meanwhile, Edward Bid Bidder, Chief of Field Offices, UNICEF, New Delhi, came all the way to Bhopal to be especially present and attend the function of launching of "Beti Bachao Abhiyan" in Madhya Pradesh. The Madhya Pradesh chief of UNICEF Ms Tania Goldner was also present on the occasion.

When asked about his reaction about the programme Mr. Bidder exclaimed:"I am quite impressed. It is a very important initiative".

Mr. Bidder said that it is a very important campaign to address the issue of declining sex ratio. It will have positive impact not only in Madhya Pradesh, but also in entire India.

He said that UNICEF has been closely working in tandem with Madhya Pradesh and protection of daughters is the common agenda of UNICEF and Madhya Pradesh. He said that UNICEF is always keen on supporting all such initiatives and will extend its cooperation in this campaign also. However, he stressed the need to link child marriage with this campaign.

Meanwhile, on the occasion, nine girls symbolising nine deities were seated at thrones on a large rostrum. Chief Minister Mr. Chouhan and his wife honoured the girls by washing their feet as part of religious ritual. They later served food to over 1100 girls.

The Chief Minister interacted with hundreds of girls and talked to them cordially. The Chief Minister also showered flower petals on girls. Enthused by the presence of the Chief Minister amidst them, the girls kept raising inspirational slogans including Bharat Mata Ki Jai.

The Chief Minister honoured heads of all the religions present on the dais. Happiness and sense of pride was writ large on their faces.

Before commencement of the programme, several girls expressed views through songs and stories about negative thinking of society and gave the message of changing it.

Meanwhile, a cheque of Rs. 160,000 was handed over to one Mahima Thakur for the treatment of her daughter. The girl is suffering from heart disease. She was also given Rs. 1,200 as travel expenses.

On the occasion, a drama "Beti Hai to Kal Hai" was staged. The drama directed by. Ashok Bulani and staged by Rang Samooh gave a message against negative thinking about daughters. Seeing enthusiastic response of audience, Chief Minister Mr. Chouhan announced that this drama will be staged throughout the state.

The Chief Minister also administered an oath to all those present on the occasion that they will never prevent daughter's birth, give honour, protection, motivation to them and provide them education, health and security without any discrimination.

Former Chief Minister Sundarlal Patwa, Home Minister Umashankar Gupta, senior leader Kailash Sarang, Mayor Mrs. Krishna Gaur and Madhya Pradesh Women's Commission Chairperson Mrs. Upma Rai were also present on the occasion amongst others.

Meanwhile, Madhya Pradesh Public Relations Minister Laxmikant Sharma while launching “Beti Bachao Abhiyan" in Sironj, a small township near Bhopal, said that today girls have achieved success in every walk of life. It is has been proved from various examination results that daughters might be behind in sex ratio, but they are ahead of boys in merit.

Decline in ratio of daughters in the population is a matter of concern and therefore, Madhya Pradesh government has launched Beti Bachao Abhiyan with a view to saving the future in households, families, society, state and country, he added.

The Public Relations Minister said that the objective of this campaign to make people aware of the lurking dangers of declining sex ratio and bring about a positive change in people's mindset towards girls so that heinous crimes like embryo killing are obliterated and sons and daughters can take birth in the ratio as decided divinely.

[Pervez Bari is a Journalist based at Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh. He can be contacted at pervezbari@eth.net]

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