M A I N   N E W S

Coming: New deal for the girl child
Incentive: Cash, insurance
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 17
Radical it may sound, but it is equally ironical. Desperate to arrest the declining sex ratio (927 per 1,000 males at present), the Central government has decided to offer cash to families as an incentive to bear and retain the girl child. Cash flow will, however, be subject to certain conditions. The government in collaboration with the LIC is also working out an insurance cover for the girl child to encourage her survival and welfare.

The move is part of the ministry of women and child development’s (WCD) new scheme — Conditional Cash and Non Cash Transfer Scheme. To be announced on January 26, it provides for cash and non-cash transfers to a family that fulfils the following conditions with respect to a girl child — her birth and registration, immunisation, school enrolment and delaying her marriage beyond 18 years. Every time a family fulfils these conditions, it will get cash incentives. Girls till Class VIII will be targeted under the scheme.

“With the incidence of foeticide rising, the very survival of the girl child is at stake. We have decided to pay a substantial amount at the stage of birth and birth registration,” said Nandita Mishra from the ministry, who today shared the scheme’s modalities with The Tribune on the sidelines of the regional seminar on the issue organised by the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights.

The estimation of cash transfer under the scheme will be based on the 2001 census as per which average age-wise population of female children (below 18 years) per block has been extrapolated to be 500. “Poverty is a huge constraint in the way of birth and development of a girl child. We realised that well-designed financial incentives can transform negative perceptions regarding daughters and make people view them as assets. Conditional cash transfers can effect behaviour changes,” said Mishra.

The project will first be implemented as a pilot in 11 blocks of the country. While 10 of the chosen blocks are economically most backward, the ministry has chosen one prosperous block - Sirhind in Fatehgarh Sahib (Punjab), which has the lowest child sex ratio of 766 per 1,000 males as per the 2001 census. “The inclusion of a rich block will enable a comparative study among outcomes in economically varying blocks,” Mishra said.

The project will be part of the 11th Five Year Plan.

The scheme’s most significant component is insurance coverage to the tune of Rs one lakh to ensure the girl child’s survival. The component has two objectives - encourage the birth of a girl and protect her from foeticide. The ministry further feels such a huge insurance cover in addition to cash transfers at birth will force families to see the retention of a girl child as something valuable. “The insurance cover will be taken in the name of the mother of girl child born on or after the cut off date specified in the scheme,” said Mishra.

The conditional cash transfer scheme has been in operation in Brazil, Nicaragua, Columbia, Chile, and Mexico. Brazil has a national programme that transfers $ 19 per month to an estimated five million families that accounts for 0.15 per cent of their GDP. The cash is transferred on the condition that a minimum school attendance of 85 per cent is ensured for children between six and 15 years of age.



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