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Don’t thrust marriage on girls: Mamata

Staff Reporter
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“They will be ten times more secure with higher education”

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee with schoolgirls at the launch of ‘Kanyashri’ — a scheme for empowerment of girl children — in Kolkata on Tuesday.— Photo: Sushanta Patronobish
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee with schoolgirls at the launch of ‘Kanyashri’ — a scheme for empowerment of girl children — in Kolkata on Tuesday.— Photo: Sushanta Patronobish

Launching her government’s ‘Kanyashri’ scheme that encourages higher education among girls, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee urged parents here on Tuesday not to force their daughters into marriage before the age of 18 years.

Girls need to be “strong and fearless” and parents must keep in mind that if their daughters become self-sufficient, which is not possible without education, they will be able to “achieve 10 times more societal security than they can get from marriage.”

The ‘Kanyashri’ scheme envisages providing an annual scholarship of Rs. 500 to girl students aged between 13 and 18, enrolled from Class VIII to XII and whose annual family income is Rs. 1.20 lakh or less. Girls opting to study after attaining 18 years are entitled to a one-time grant of Rs. 25,000 which the State government would deposit in their bank accounts. The State government aims at reaching out to 24 lakh girl students under the scheme that would cost it more than Rs. 1,000 crore.

 “I do not blame parents who get their daughters married due to poverty before they turn 18 as they do not have the financial wherewithal to educate them. If you [the parents] cannot send them to school then enrol them in vocational training,” Ms. Banerjee said.

 She pointed out that the ‘Kanyashri’ scheme provides “social security.” “There should not be any negligence among us [in its implementation] as negligence is a crime.”

Also considering both a “lethargic attitude” and “non performance” as crimes, Ms. Banerjee said what is required is a “positive attitude” that is a “constructive” quality.

She appealed to students to continue studying even if they have to borrow books from others as “we [the State government] are trying to lighten the load of the syllabus.”

Accusing the Left Front of adopting a “directionless economic policy” during its regime, Ms. Banerjee said “we are still suffering as a result.”

She repeated her charge against the Centre of deducting a major amount from the State’s income as interests for the loan taken by the previous Left Front government.


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