• RTI Exposes Modi Government’s Negligence of Women’s Welfare

    Sanjay Basu & Prof Ujjwal K Chowdhury

    April 3, 2019

    Representational image. | Image Courtesy: DD News

    One of the ways in which Narendra Modi appealed to women voters in the 2014 elections was through the the BJP manifesto that had shown commitment to the cause, development, security, health and education of women, towards which several schemes and projects were taken up and slogans given. However, RTI revelations of the government's facts and figures on the status of the schemes present a dismal picture.

    Kishori Shakti Yojana

    During 2006-07, there was a scheme called “Kishori Shakti Yojana” which sought to empower adolescent girls, so as to enable them to take charge of their lives. In fact, the scheme was an extension of the already existing Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) scheme. The target group was 11 to 18 years and was initially introduced in 6118 blocks across the country. The ultimate objective was to make a girl healthy physically and mentally, link them to opportunities for learning skills, motivate them to go back to school, help them understand their social environment and take initiatives to become productive.

    The KYS scheme was yielding results earlier, as per an RTI reply by the Modi government. In the year 2010-11, the central government spent Rs. 3,365 crore and covered 24.81 lakh girls by providing training for skill development. However, in 2014-15, in the first budget of Modi Government, the funds were drastically reduced to Rs. 1,489 crore, whereas the expenditure made on KSY by various state governments turned out to be Rs. 1,602 crore. Only around 15.18 lakh girls got the benefit. Before phasing out KSY, in the year 2017-18, government of India provided only Rs. 4,64 crore to provide skill development training to 6.28 lakh girls. But from April 1, 2018, the scheme has been discontinued.

    Mahila Shakti Kendra

    In November 2017, Modi Government came up with a new scheme for women empowerment, named Mahila Shakti Kendra. The scheme aimed to cover 640 districts of the country through District Level Centre for Women (DLCW) till 2020. These centres will serve as a link between village, block and state level in facilitating women centric schemes and also strengthen the Beti Bachao Beti Padhao scheme at the district level. Also to make it a grand success, community engagement through College Student Volunteers was envisioned in 115 most backward districts as part of Block level initiatives. During the first Phase (2017-18), 220 districts were supposed to be covered and similarly, 220 more DLCW were proposed to be established in 2018-19. The remaining 200 districts were to be covered in 2019-20. Funding would be in 60:40 ratio between Centre and State. For Northeastern states and Special Category States, it would be 90:10 and for Union Territories, it will be 100% funded by the Centre. Government of India had released only 61.40 crore during 2017-18, and a meagre 52.67 crore till end of 2018.

    According to the RTI reply, only 22 districts have so far made DLCW functional which includes 5 most Backward Districts of India. Bihar has 10 most backward districts out of the 25 lowest ranking districts in the country and got around RS. 12.8 crore but not a single DLCW has become functional. Similarly, 19 Districts of Jharkhand are listed in Backward Districts out of a total of 115 and got a maximum amount of Rs.18.65 crore among all the states but not a single centre has become functional till date. Same is the scenario for Chhattisgarh, which has received Rs. 9.86 crore but is yet to establish a centre in any district. The RTI reply also confirmed that not a single state has reported about the functional status of the Mahila Shakti Kendras.

    Maternity Benefit Scheme

    The Modi government took two and half years to redraw the Indira Gandhi Matritva Sahyog Yojana (IGMSY) which provided Rs. 6,000 to poor pregnant woman in two instalments since the 1980s. From January 1, 2017, a new scheme was launched under the name Pradhan Mantri Matritva Vandana Yojana (PMMVY) and the amount for the beneficiary was reduced to Rs. 5,000 while increasing the number of instalments to 3.

    According to a report published by Hindustan Times on January 15, 2018, only 2% beneficiaries got aid under this maternity scheme even after one year of being implemented. The RTI reply revealed that till November 30, 2018, the government had distributed Rs. 1,656 crore among nearly 20 lakh eligible mothers, but ironically it has spent Rs.6,966 crore to distribute this amount. So, for doling out of every Rs.100, the government spent nearly 4.3 times as administrative expenses which is mind-blowing. Odisha made a dubious record of identifying only five beneficiaries, thus distributing only Rs. 25,000 till November 2018.

    Family Counselling Centre (FCC) The scheme for setting up Family Counselling Centres was introduced by the Central Social Welfare Board in 1983 to provide counselling, referral and rehabilitative services to women and children who are victims of atrocities, family maladjustments and social ostracism, and also provide crisis intervention and trauma support in case of natural disasters. The Centres also create awareness and mobilise public opinion on social issues affecting status of women. The FCCs work in close collaboration with the local administration, police, courts, free legal aid cells, medical and psychiatric institutions, vocational training centres, short stay homes, etc.

    However, under the Modi government the scheme has suffered as well. The RTI response revealed shocking details. During the last five years, 219 FCCs have closed. During 2014-15, when 895 centres were operational, the total expenditure was Rs. 1,645 crore, and then onwards, while centres were continuously reduced, expenditures shot up.

    Beti Padhao, Beti Bachao

    The much talked-about BPBB project, launched in January 2015 by Modi government in Panipat, aimed to improve the sex ratio and ensure higher rate of girl-child education. But a Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) report in 2015-16 noted that while Rs. 5 lakh were given to each district under this scheme, of which in Panipat itself, Rs.3 lakh were spent on the construction of the theme gate of the project’s inauguration programme. CAG noted that the Women and Child Welfare department spent nearly Rs. 21 lakh on this one event. The seriousness of this project is understood by the fact that the ministry has so far spent Rs. 209 crore between 2015 to 2018 for publicity, while only Rs 40 crore have been given to the state governments. Further, Unnao and Kathua rape cases by members of the ruling party have made a mockery of this project.


     

    Sanjay Basu is an RTI activist. Prof Ujjwal K Chowdhury is a noted media academic and columnist.

    First published in Newsclick.

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