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Bhagyalakshmi scheme changed attitude towards girl child among poor: Report

The BJP government’s flagship Bhagyalakshmi scheme, a welfare measure linked to the conditional cash transfer in the name of the girl child, has changed the attitude towards the girl child among the poor sections of society and reduced gender disparity in school attendance, according to an evaluation report.

Evaluation of the implementation of the scheme during 2010–11 and 2015–16 by the Karnataka Evaluation Authority with the support of Hyderabad–Karnataka Centre for Advanced Learning, Kalaburagi, found that “85.5% respondents believe there is a changed attitude towards the girl child in society” and that “they are no more considered as burden”.

The scheme was launched in 2006–07 to improve the status of girl children by promoting education among below the poverty line (BPL) families. Registration of the birth of a girl child was 100% among the scheme beneficiaries with the intervention from anganwadi, ANM, and ASHA workers.

School attendance

The report said 88% of children aged between six and 17 were attending school; there was “almost no gender disparity” in school attendance in the six to 14 age group. But there is a marginal difference in the 15 to 17 age group (73% of girls attending school as against 75% of boys). “Some portion of this success can be attributed to the scheme,” it said.

Evaluation of the implementation of scheme in eight districts — Bengaluru Urban, Chitradurga, Dharwad, Vijayapura, Bidar, Raichur, Dakshina Kannada, and Chamarajanagar — found reduction in the visibility of child labour in commercial activities to a significant extent. District child rights cells, Labour Department, and child rights activists also contributed to this factor, it said.

On the flip side

Interestingly, the report noted, “With 18 years of age and minimum eighth standard education, the scheme looks somewhat marriage oriented.”

Although the scheme has increased the value of the girl child marginally within the poor family, it has failed to curb female foeticide as it is prevalent across the class and caste categories, the report stated.

“Among the minorities and certain tribal communities, there is reservation on religious lines on the issue of sterilisation,” it stated.

The report recommended that scheme beneficiaries should be given priority under various skill development as well as self-employment schemes.

“The very process of allocation of BPL status needs to be relooked as the presence of bogus beneficiaries are blocking the potential of genuine beneficiaries,” the report stated.

Increase in age limit

Considering a majority of parents (76.7%) use the Bhagyalakshmi scheme money for marriage purpose when the girl child attains the age of 18, the State Cabinet, on Thursday, seems to have increased the age limit to 21 for withdrawal of the full amount under the scheme.

The remodelled scheme allows for withdrawal of a portion of the total amount of ₹1.27 lakh to be withdrawn at the age of 18 for pursuing education and the remaining at 21 years, said Minister for Women and Child Development Shashikala A. Jolle.

After shifting the execution of the scheme from LIC to India Post, the government would deposit ₹3,000 each in the name of the child for 15 years under the Sukanya Samriddhi scheme account. Currently, there are 30.5 lakh beneficiaries.

OPTIONAL CUT: Earlier, the government used to pay a premium of ₹19,350 for the first child and ₹18,350 for the second, to the LIC. The LIC refused to implement the scheme owing to low premiums.

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