With Social Welfare and Child Development Project officers gearing up to register applications for the Mufti government’s ambitious Ladli Scheme, the April 2015 born girls in J&K’s six districts availing the scheme in the first phase are all set to become richer than the rest.
The main motive of the scheme with tagline, “Daughters aren’t burden, but God’s blessing”, is to “prevent imbalance in sex-ratio for the bright future of the tender one”. Perhaps for the first time, the state government seemingly has invested in designing of its print campaigns to attract commoners.
As every year about one lakh girls are born in the state, the government plans to cover one third of this population, i.e. 30,000 girls across six districts, that would cost Rs 35 crore a year.
“I propose to contribute Rs 1000 per month on behalf of every new born girl child (born after 1st April) for the next 14 years and on reaching 21 years she would receive around 6.5 Lakh,” the state finance minister Dr Haseeb Drabu said while presenting the Budget 2015-16 this past spring. “To begin with, we can do a pilot in six districts with the most adverse child sex ratio.” Budgam, Kathua, Pulwama, Samba, Islamabad and Jammu are those districts having skewed female ratio to males.
Interestingly, a 1994-96 UNICEF’s report termed “JK foeticide-free zone”, which over the years has disintegrated. Compared to 2001 when the sex ratio was 883, the provisional data of census 2011 suggests J&K had the sex ratio of 889, which is much below the all India average of 940. Because of this appalling rate, JK plunged to second spot after Haryana in the bottom of the all India states list with lowest sex ratio. J&K’s grim sex-ratio numbers came at a time when states like Punjab, Haryana, Delhi and Chandigarh indicated appreciable increase in the sex ratio.
A Kashmir University research puts blame on “13 per cent valley’s diagnostic centres carrying out gender determination tests despite of it being illegal”. Many quacks and medical shops have acquired these equipments and are operating without formal permissions, one medico said. However, the last government cracked whip on mushrooming of such ultra-sound clinics, closing 200 of them.
The KU research also blames husband or in-laws, and woman’s self choice for dwindling number of girls.
2011 head count indicated a net-deficit of 139 females per 1000 in Kashmir as the deficit in Jammu was 126 only. The high incidence of skewed sex-ratio was found in Budgam and Islamabad (net-deficit of 168 each) followed by 164 in Pulwama and 146 in Kupwara.
In the Jammu region, Jammu district topped the list with the net-deficit of 205 females and 213 in Samba followed by Rajouri by 163.
What is alarming is that the child sex ratio (6 – 10 years) has shown a very rapid decline. It has fallen from 941 in 2001 to 862 in 2011 at the state level.
“Among a host of interventions, financial security of the girl child holds paramountcy as it creates a positive disposition towards the girl child,” the finance minister said. The high sex-ratio districts include Shopian, Kulgam (951), Islamabad (927), Kishtwar (920) and Doda (919).
In the adult population, J&K at the state level has a net-deficit of 117 females per 1000 females – 112 in Jammu region, 100 in Kashmir and interestingly, 321 in Ladakh. Compared to 2001 census, Leh has a net-deficit of 417 females per thousand adult males. And in Kargil, it is alarming 225.
Female population that usually takes the brunt of the male priorities, has, lately, remained a priority for the government. Apart from starting girl welfare schemes like Beti Anmol Scheme covering 6,902 girl students of poor families, the last dispensation led by Omar Abdullah had called for a fresh block-level survey of all the birth in last five years. The survey was started after the government expressed its doubts over census 2011, the decadal data mining, it intriguingly called “the most credible exercise” at a first place.