The Parliament Panel has yet once again directed the Centre to reconsider the funds put into advertising the scheme and shift it towards the actual implementation of it. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had launched the scheme back in January 2015. Seven years into the program, over 70 per cent of the expenditure is still being allocated toward media advocacy.
A Repetition Of Data From The Fifth Report
The flagship scheme was launched with the objective of addressing the protection of the girl child in reference to sex-selective abortions and declining child sex ratio. It is being implemented in over 405 districts in the country with a total allocated a fund of ₹848 crores, excluding the year 2020-21, when the finances were struck by the impact of the pandemic. During these years, about ₹622.48 crores were released to the State governments, but only a minuscule portion of around 25 per cent, i.e. ₹156.46 crores, has been spent by the States and Union Territories.
With this data being presented during the session on August 4, the parliamentary standing committee said that the government should redirect their focus on a planned structure of expenditure allocation for sectoral interventions in education and health under this scheme. Reports by the Indian Express suggest that in the years between 2016-2019, more than 78 per cent of the funds released for the 'Beti Bachao Beti Padhao' scheme went into media advocacy. The total allocated budget back then was ₹446.72 crores.
The Sixth Report of the Committee
The sixth report for the year 2021-22 to analyse the actions taken on the subject "Empowerment of Women through Education with Special Reference to 'Beti Bachao Beti Padhao Scheme" was presented to give out similar records as those of the previous years.
The two key components of the scheme, as per the implementation guidelines published by the Ministry of Women and Child Development, were,
1) Advocacy and campaigning to create awareness around the scheme and its relevance
2) Multi-sectoral intervention in identified gender-critical regions with a poor child sex ratio
Despite having a clearly laid equation on the amount to be spent on advertisements and the intervention, the utilisation of funds has gone overboard. Over the past six years, the scheme's focus was tunnelled toward media advocacy. While this has been able to bring attention to a collective consciousness towards empowering the girl child, the measures taken towards it are fewer in number.
Referring to this, the panel has advised the government to focus on other verticals in order to be able to allot sufficient financial provisions to achieve the educational and health missions as envisaged under the scheme. They have also stressed the need for social audits for the scheme to maintain a structure of transparency and accountability.
Also Read: Nearly 79% Of Total Allocated Funds For 'Beti Bachao' Went Into Ads