NEW DELHI: Taking to desperate measures to check the alarming rise in female foeticide, the Centre is planning a “cradle scheme” for abandoned girl children. Under the proposed Palna or cradle scheme, the government plans to open a centre in each district where parents can leave their girl children if they do not want to bring them up themselves.
“We want to put a cradle or Palna in every district headquarters. What we are saying to the people is have your children, don’t kill them. And if you don’t want a girl child, leave her to us,” Minister of State for Women and Child Development Renuka Chowdhury said in an interview.
“We will bring up the children. But don’t kill them because there really is a crisis situation,” she said.
The Palna scheme has been proposed to be put in place during the 11th Five Year Plan as part of a slew of measures to fight the menace of female foeticide. Asked if the scheme would not encourage families to abandon their girl children, Chowdhury said: “It doesn’t matter. It is better than killing them.”
She also said the parents, even if they were abandoning their daughters, were likely to have a change of heart later. “Parents who abandon children do come back and take them back,” she said.
She said the government was treating the drop in sex ratio as an issue of national emergency and quoted the shocking figure of one crore as the number of girls who have been killed as fetuses in the country in the last two decades.
The sex ratio in the country has been recorded at as low as 933 females per 1,000 males in the 2001 census.
Northern states fare the worst, with national capital Delhi having the lowest sex ratio at 821. In Haryana, the sex ratio has been recorded at 861, while Punjab is only slightly better with a figure of 876.
Chowdhury said the practice was spreading to more states. “It’s alarming that even liberal states like those in the northeast have taken to disposing of girls,” she said.
“It is a matter of international and national shame for us that India with a growth of nine per cent still kills its daughters.” Chowdhury said her ministry was also planning to declare one day in the year as “national daughter’s day”.