July 6, 2008

State Launches Scheme for BPL Girls

By Faizan Ahmad

PATNA: Muskan, Khushboo, Chandni, Khushi, Mili, Neha, Gauri, Isha... may not know they would be richer by a few thousand rupees on turning 18.

In the lap of their mothers, these baby girls, hardly six months old, showed up at the flower-bedecked dais at the S K Memorial Hall here on Thursday and their parents received documents showing a sum of Rs 2,000 each has been deposited in accounts in their names. The amount will grow to become Rs 18,000 under the UTI Children's Career Balanced Plan by the time the girls turn 18, and they will be eligible to withdraw it.

This scheme, Mukhya Mantri Kanya Suraksha Yojana, was launched by governor R S Gavai in presence of deputy CM Sushil Kumar Modi, welfare minister Damodar Raut, UTI Mutual Fund CMD U K Sinha and officials of welfare department at a gala function.

Under the scheme, which Gavai called a farsighted concept, the government will open a bank account for each girl child born in BPL families after November 22, 2007 and deposit Rs 2000 each. In fact, the government will provide this grant to Women's Development Corporation (WDC) and the fund will be managed by UTI Asset Management Company. In case of death of the girl, the money will be refunded to WDC.

"Our nation cannot prosper without women empowerment," Gavai said and praised the state government for introducing many schemes exclusively for the welfare of women.

It is estimated about seven lakh newborn girls will be benefited every year from the scheme the main motive of which is to check female foeticide and infanticide cases which has imbalanced sex ratio.

An international newsmagazine, in a report "No Girls, Please", says in parts of Asia, sexism is ingrained and gender selection often means murder. It suggested the Asian governments should create new incentives instead of trying and failing to enforce a ban on foeticide. "In China's Huaiyuan County, a pilot programme gives parents of girls tax breaks and $240 in cash," the report says, adding remarkable results were achieved after two years of this campaign.

Modi, who gave Sinha a cheque for Rs 26 crore for the scheme for the current fiscal, enumerated the other schemes for which funds have been allocated. He hailed chief minister Nitish Kumar, who missed the programme as he left for Delhi, for launching a women- empowerment mission in the state.

Modi made interesting claims. "As a result of the women empowerment in the state, crime graph has fallen and the dowry rate has come down," he said, adding with over one lakh women being appointed as teachers, eligible bachelors are now looking for salaried women as life partners and have slashed dowry demands.

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