Has the much-touted BBBP scheme met its targets?

A report tabled by the parliamentary committee on the Empowerment of Women in Lok Sabha, has said that the central government has spent a gigantic amount of funds allocated for its flagship scheme Beti Bachao Beti Padhao on the media campaigns.  How has the scheme fared, finds out Anil Manocha

The panel on Empowerment of Women, chaired by BJP lawmaker Dr Heena V Gavit, also noted that out of a total of ₹446.72 crore released during the period 2016- 2019, “a whopping 78.91% was spent only on media advocacy”.

The committee is headed by Heena Vijaykumar Gavit and the report is named Empowerment of Women through education with special reference to Beti Bachao Beti Padhao. The panel recommended that “it is time to focus on other verticals by making ample financial provisions to help achieve measurable outcomes related to education and health envisaged under the scheme”.

Gavit acknowledged that the low spending by states did not “an up to the mark performance of the scheme.”  “We have recommended that the ministry of women and child development immediately takes up the issue with the states to ensure proper utilization of funds. The Committee has also said that the nodal ministry must release funds strictly on the basis of actual utilization of earlier release and after proper scrutiny of expenditure/ utilization of the previous funds,” Gavit said.

The flagship scheme of central govt BBBP was launched in 2015 by the government with an aim to focus on issues like sex-selective abortion and the declining child sex ratio in the country. The programme is currently operational in over 400 districts across India.  The committee also reported on the poor utilization of the total budget. Since its inception in 2014-15 to 2019-20, the total allocated budget under the scheme was Rs 848 crore. This doesn’t include the COVID year of 2020-21. Till 2019-20, a total of Rs 622.48 crore was distributed to the states however, only 25.13 percent of the total money the states got was spent by them under the scheme.  The Beti Bachao Beti Padhao (BBBP) Scheme, launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modion 22nd January, 2015 at Panipat in Haryana with the objective of bringing behavioural change in the society towards birth and rights of a girl child, has resulted in increased awareness and sensitization of the masses regarding prevalence of gender bias and role of community in eradicating it.  During the last 6 years the Sex Ratio at Birth (SRB) has improved by 16 points from 918 in 2014-15 to 934 in 2019-20. Gross Enrolment Ratio of girls in the schools at secondary level has improved from 77.45 to 81.32.

Government claims that during the last six years since its inception, the BBBP scheme has been aiming at changing the mindset of the public to acknowledge the rights of the girl child. The scheme has resulted in increased awareness and sensitization of the masses regarding prevalence of gender bias and role of community in eradicating it. It has raised concerns around the issue of declining CSR in India. As a result of the collective consciousness of the people supporting the campaign, BBBP has found its place in public discourse.

Progress in terms of monitorable targets:

  • Promising trends of improvement in Sex Ratio at Birth (SRB) have been observed at National level. SRB has improved by 16 points from 918 (2014-15) to 934 (2019-20), as per the HMIS data of MoH&FW.
  • Out of 640 districts covered under BBBP, 422 districts have shown improvement in SRB from 2014-15 to 2018-2019.
  • Some Districts which had very low SRB in 2014-15 have shown huge improvement after implementation of the Scheme such as Mau (Uttar Pradesh) from 694 (2014-15) to 951 (2019-20), Karnal (Haryana) from 758 (2014-15) to 898 (2019-20), Mahendergarh (Haryana) from 791 (2014-15) to 919 (2019-20), Rewari (Haryana) from 803 (2014-15) to 924 (2019-20), and Patiala (Punjab) from 847 (2014-15) to 933 (2019-20),
  • Percentage of 1st Trimester ANC Registration has shown an improving trend from 61% in 2014-15 to 71% in 2019-20.
  • Percentage of Institutional Deliveries has shown an improving trend from 87% in 2014-15 to 94% in 2019-20.
  • Gross Enrolment Ratio of girls in the schools at secondary level has improved from 77.45 (2014-15) to 81.32 (2018-19-provisional figures) as per UDISE-data.
  • Percentage of schools with functional separate toilets for girls has shown improvement from 92.1% in 2014-15 to 95.1% in 2018-19 (2018-19 provisional figure, as per UDISE-data
  • The BBBP scheme has been able to bring the focus on important issue of female infanticide, lack of education amongst girls and deprivation of their rights on a life cycle continuum. The scheme has successfully engaged with Community to defy the age-old biases against the girl child and introduce innovative practices to celebrate the girl child.
  • The BBBP logo has been much appreciated and accepted by people. People are using the BBBP logo on their own volition at various places such as school buses, building, stationeries, transport vehicles etc. to affirm their commitment to the cause. Logo has also been mentioned in popular Indian festivals like Lohri, KalashYatra, Rakhi, Ganesh Chaturdashipandal, festival of flowers etc.

The frontline government employees have been successfully collaborating at the level of community for observing the son-centric rituals while celebrating the birth of girl child i.e. Kuwapoojan, Thalibajana etc. Now mothers and girl children are being felicitated at community level and in hospitals by Administration to establish the relevance of the girl child. BetiJanmotsav is one of the key programme celebrated in each district.

The panel will now take up the issue of a number of girl students dropping out of schools amid the pandemic. As per the implementation guidelines described on the e-address of the Ministry of Women and Child Development, the two key components of BBBP include media campaigns and multi-sectoral intervention in selected gender critical districts that perform poorly with respect to child sex ratio.  The report also mentioned that the massive spend on advertisements was clearly against the previously laid down formula for utilization of funds.

Sangeeta Kumari Singh Deo, a member of the panel, said, “Our initial estimates suggest that more students dropped out of private schools during Covid. The possible reasons might be that lack of internet facilities hampered education or that parents might be uninterested in paying fees when the schools remained closed. Government schools faced little problem as education is free there. We will study this carefully,” she said.