The government spent a whopping 80% of funds under its flagship Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao (BBBP) scheme on media campaigns. They must now revisit this strategy and invest in measurable outcomes in health and education for girls. This, the Parliamentary Committee on Empowerment of Women noted in its report tabled in Lok Sabha.
“The Committee finds that out of a total of ₹446.72 crores released during the period 2016- 2019, a whopping 78.91% was spent only on media advocacy,” said the report.
It adds, “over the last six years, through focussed advocacy Beti Bachao Beti Padhao has been able to capture the attention of political leadership and national consciousness towards valuing the girl child. Now, 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.”
Heena Vijaykumar Gavit chairs and leads the Committee. The report is titled ‘Empowerment of Women through education with special reference to Beti Bachao Beti Padhao’. It was tabled in Lok Sabha on Thursday.
The Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi, launched the Beti Bachao Beti Padhao Scheme. It happened in January 2015. Its aim was to address sex-selective abortion and the declining child sex ratio which was at 918 girls for every 1,000 boys in 2011. 405 districts in the country have thought of implementing this program.
The total utilization under the scheme was also poor. The Committee found it out since the inception of BBBP in 2014-15 till 2019-20. They found that the total Budgetary allocation under the scheme was ₹848 crore. This was excluding the COVID-stricken financial year of 2020-21.
During this period, the States got an amount of ₹622.48 crores. However, the States and Union Territories spend only 25.13% of the funds, i.e. ₹156.46 crores.
According to the implementation guidelines of the scheme on the website of the Ministry of Women and Child Development, there are two key components of Beti Bachao Beti Padhao.
These include advocacy and media campaign. That means radio spots or jingles in Hindi and regional languages, television publicity, and outdoor and print media. It also includes community engagement through mobile exhibition vans.
They also include SMS campaigns, brochures, etc- and multi-sectoral intervention in selected gender-critical districts that perform poorly with respect to child sex ratio.
The Committee noted that officials did massive spending on advertisements. This happened despite the clearly laid down formula for utilization of funds. The officials earmarked Rs. 50 lakh per year for a district for utilization under six different components.
Of this, 16% of funds are for inter-sectoral consultation or capacity building and 50% for innovation or awareness generation activities. Also, there was 6% for monitoring and evaluation, 10% for sectoral interventions in health. There was also 10% for sectoral interventions in education and 8% for flexi funds.