The government spent a whopping 80% of funds under its flagship Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao (BBBP) scheme on media campaigns and must now revisit this strategy and invest in measurable outcomes in health and education for girls, noted the Parliamentary Committee on Empowerment of Women in its report tabled in Lok Sabha.
“The Committee finds that out of a total of ₹446.72 crore released during the period 2016- 2019, a whopping 78.91% was spent only on media advocacy,” said the report. It adds, “over the last six years, through focussed advocacy BBBP has been able to capture the attention of political leadership and national consciousness towards valuing the girl child. Now, it is time to focus on other verticals by making ample financial provisions to help achieve measurable outcomes related to education and health envisaged under the scheme.”
The Committee is chaired by Heena Vijaykumar Gavit and the report is titled ‘Empowerment of Women through education with special reference to Beti Bachao Beti Padhao ’. It was tabled in Lok Sabha on Thursday. The Beti Bachao scheme was launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in January 2015 with the aim to address sex selective abortion and the declining child sex ratio which was at 918 girls for every 1,000 boys in 2011. The programme is being implemented across 405 districts in the country.
The total utilisation under the scheme was also poor – the Committee found that since the inception of BBBP in 2014-15 till 2019-20, the total Budgetary allocation under the scheme was ₹848 crore, excluding the COVID-stricken financial year of 2020-21. During this period, an amount of ₹622.48 crore was released to the States but only 25.13% of the funds, i.e. ₹156.46 crore, have been spent by the States and Union Territories.
According to the implementation guidelines of the scheme on the website of the Ministry of Women and Child Development, there are two key components of BBBP. These include advocacy and media campaign – radio spots or jingles in Hindi and regional languages, television publicity, outdoor and print media, community engagement through mobile exhibition vans, SMS campaigns, brochures, etc- and multi-sectoral intervention in selected gender critical districts that perform poorly with respect to child sex ratio.
The Committee noted that the massive spend on advertisements was despite the clearly laid down formula for utilisation of funds – ₹50 lakh per year is earmarked for a district for utilisation under six different components. Of this, 16% of funds are for inter-sectoral consultation or capacity building, 50% for innovation or awareness generation activities, 6% for monitoring and evaluation, 10% for sectoral interventions in health, 10% for sectoral interventions in education and 8% as flexi funds.