Have your girl and leave her to us

My last post was a plea to ensure that existing social schemes function in this country. Imagine my utter dismay when a national daily carried an article spelling out a new initiative to fight foeticide and infanticide. This is of course after the little bones found buried near a Ratlam hospital.

The scheme aims at placing cradles in every district of India so that parents who don't want a girl child can leave her to the care of the government. The Minister of social welfare was quoted saying: what we are saying to people is have your children but don't kill them.. leave her to us.

I wonder how a responsible person can utter such words. The whole scheme is absurd and preposterous and would have a plethora of consequences that one cannot even begin to imagine at this moment. And I am not talking about the usual corruption and fund embezzlement.

First of all it does not address the main problem of foeticide which is the main reason for the warped sex ratio in our country. Then a scheme like this will encourage parents to abandon their baby girls even if they were in a position to rear them. We have come across families of a 9 children where the first 8 are girls! Were this scheme in place the first 8 would have been placed in the cradle.

We all know of the pathetic conditions that prevail in state run orphanages and children's homes. Even in India's capital city these are poorly run and overcrowded. The abandoned children are likely to suffer a worse plight than they would have in their homes. Bringing up a child requires much more than two meals a day and a bed to sleep in. A child needs love and emotional support and above all needs to be given answers about why she is in an orphanage and not with her family.

The reference by the Minister to creating a gene pool is extremely disturbing as it views these to be abandoned children as objects and not individuals. The Minister goes on to say that if the parents have a change of heart then they may take their children back, leaving the door wide open for parents to use the scheme to abdicate their duties. What is even more disquieting is that no one seems to give any importance to the psychological growth of the child who will be casted from side to side to suit the whim and fancies of irresponsible adults.

True that the figures are shocking - over 1 crore of foetuses disposed of in the last decade and a sex ratio of 821/1000 in Delhi - a solution that discards the role of the parent is inconceivable and is bound to lead to problems that may spin beyond control. The issue of the girl child has to be viewed in a different manner. She has to be reinstated as within the family and society through awareness campaigns and once again maybe by just ensuring that existing programmes are run honestly and in a realistic manner.

The government of the NCT has a programme whereby a sum of Rs 5000 is deposited in the name of a new born SC girl child to be encashed after the child has reached 18 years of age. Little Shivani is an SC child but we were unable to fill and file the required documents within the stipulated time of 90 days. However it is schemes like these that may secure a child a place in her family and not legalising washing one's hand off them.

I will not even begin to address the social implications of such a scheme in a land where social origins are of prime importance. I will just say that a responsible government has to think about the long term consequences before shooting out absurd programmes, unless once again these are done to create one way to line greedy pockets.

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