Restoring the Skewed Sex Ratio: An Analysis of Incentives Based Schemes for the Girl Child in Haryana.

Dear all, 

Greetings! I would like to share abstract of my study i conducted in Haryana in 2010. Your valuable comments are welcome.

 

The gender gaps in development can be identified through disparity between males and females on various demographic indicators, and sex ratio of population is one of the most obvious manifestations of this gap. According to 2001 census, there were 927 girls per 1000 boys for the 0-6 years age group.  The declining sex ratio led to consequent slide in the country’s performance on the Human Development Index (HDI) and therefore skewed sex ratio became a national concern. Governments both at the Central and State level have made efforts for improving the figures of decreasing number of girls in India through various policies, laws, programmes, schemes and campaigns.

 

Haryana with the second lowest sex ratio of 820 girls for 1000 boys for 0-6 age group initiated a scheme called Apni Beti Apna Dhan (ABAD) in the year 1994. The scheme was revised and was called ‘LADLI’ in the year 2005 with increased cash grant provision. These schemes were implemented through ICDS setup.  Now, almost with more than ten years after these schemes were initiated it is worth finding out the effectiveness of such efforts.

 

With this backdrop, the study aimed at analyzing the effectiveness of incentive based schemes for the girl child. In specific the study aimed at analysis of these schemes for their various operational dimensions. Along with assessing of knowledge and opinion of functionaries the study examined the knowledge and opinion of beneficiary mothers of girl children of both the schemes. Also, the pre-dominant factors with respect to effectiveness of the schemes were examined.  For this exploratory study, an attempt was made to have a representative sample from the state. For this, Ashish Bose’s (2001) criteria of classifying districts on the basis of sex ratio was adopted. Two districts each from the lowest, moderate and higher sex ratio categories were selected.

 

On the basis of background information of the beneficiary mothers, few characteristics age of the mother, social category, type of family and socio economic status of the family were chosen as variables to be studied. The data was analyzed with the help of Statistical Package SPSS-16 using percentages and Chi-square test.  

 

It was found that the knowledge among beneficiaries was found to be much more about the LADLI scheme as compared to ABAD. There are differences in the incentives given and the eligibility criteria for the beneficiary girl child. Ladli was planned by incorporating the need for protection during the first five years of the girl child. According to the beneficiaries the schemes were in recognition of the fact that daughter’s marriage is an expensive affair. They are absolutely oblivious to the actual objectives of the scheme and its benefits to the realizing the potential of their daughter. According to ‘LADLI’ beneficiaries the amount given was sufficient as the scheme offered a larger sum as compared with ABAD. The FGDs revealed that for majority of women family was incomplete without a male child. According to them, it is difficult to find a groom for a girl, who has no brother. Most of the women said that a son is must to carry their family name and perform parents’ last rights and rituals. They also said that women in general, lack decision making power and were forced by in-laws and husbands to go for another child in case the earlier born child was a girl.

 

Factor analysis was used to find the most significant factors in influencing opinions of beneficiaries about ABAD and Ladli schemes. Method used was Principal Component Analysis and rotation method was Varimax with Kaiser Normalization. Knowledge about the scheme and educational qualifications, Partial SES, type and size of family and age and sex of children were found to be the most significant factors influencing the opinion about both the schemes. It was also observed that reasons for considering the girl child as burden was a significant factor influencing the opinion of LADLI beneficiaries.

 

Submission of incomplete application and exhaustion of the quota were the major reasons cited because of which the families were denied of the benefits under ABAD and LADLI respectively. Ignorance and inability to seek information from functionaries were the reasons for inability to avail the benefits of the schemes.

 

It was found that the AWWs who worked closely with the people at the grass roots were aware of the broad objectives but lacked knowledge about more specific objectives like  improving maternal health and reducing birth rate; which were also the objectives planned out for addressing the mindsets towards the girl child. It was observed that higher level officials had better knowledge about the objectives and eligibility criteria of the schemes; this can be attributed to better educational level and work experience with the State department officials responsible for planning such schemes. It is important to mention that some of the grass root level functionaries specified that the amount is enough as it can be utilized for her dowry or kanyadaan (gifts given in marriage), reinforcing the need for training and addressing the mindset for realizing the objectives of these schemes.

 

According to a vast number of beneficiary mothers, banning of dowry will aid in improving the status of girls and women. This highlights the need for government to play a significant and more pro-active role in the strict implementation of the Dowry Prohibition Act and PCPNDT Act. However, to think that any punitive or incentive based efforts can be solutions for such culturally ingrained practices is also not pragmatic. 

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Thank You for sharing your work & its a Good effort Ruchi! 

As you have asked for comments from the readers, I would like to point out a few issues that I find of concern [as a Social Science Researcher & a development professional]  which I would enumerate as follows:

1. I find the title of your study ambiguous. From your abstract, I derived that you have attempted to understand if there has been any positive or negative relation between incentive based schemes in alleviating the sex ratio of Haryana. But your title reflects ambivalence which is not an ideal scenario for any empirical work.

2. Some of the facts in your abstract are inaccurate, such as Haryana's ABAD scheme was not introduced 1994 but in 1997-98 for the SC families only. It was only in 2008 that it was absorbed under the LADLI scheme. By the way, Ladli Scheme was  started by MP Govt. in 2007 & later adopted by some 5 -6 other states. The primary focus of the scheme was to pull the girl children into schools through the incentive. It has been a helpful tool in curtailing the insensitive decline of the no. of girl children going to school & raising the economic status of the girl child. So I find it quite amazing that your research sees LADLI scheme as a direct factor for the alleviation of the female foeticide/infanticide scenario in Haryana.  

Sex-selective abortions and or female foeticide is a malignant social issue of the patriarchal structure. Or in other words, the tendency of 'son preference' mostly among the North Indian states of Delhi, Punjab, Rajasthan, Haryana, etc is the primary factor for skewed sex ratio. It is well-documented through various studies that the primary factors for the improvement in the sex ratio has been the implementation of the PCPNDT Act, sensitization of the various stakeholders such as the doctors, communities, expecting parents, etc. As said earlier, declining sex ratio is a resultant of patriarchal mindset which finds excuses in dowry, division of property, etc.

Hope you find the points useful and keep doing good researches! Besties :) 

      

hi! thanks for undertaking such a needy study. I would suggest you to check with International center for research on women (ICRW) as they are studying the same cash-incentive programme in Haryana. You may catch up with Dr. Priya Nanda - pnanda@icrw.org

regards

Sushmita

Dear Sanghamitra, thanks for your feedback! I would like to share with you that ABAD was launched on 2nd Oct. 1994 and ladli on 20th october 2005. Dear Sushmita, thanks for your feedback , i will surely get in touch with ICRW:)

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