Eight years after the Modi government started Beti Bachao Beti Padhao scheme, 54 per cent of the cumulative funds utilised were spent on advocacy.
Between 2014 and 2021, of the Rs 1048 crore that was allocated to the campaign to save the girl child, the Union Ministry of Women and Child Development said that 70 per cent of the campaign’s funds, or Rs 740.18 crore, were utilised so far. Of that, over Rs 401.04 crore were spent on advocacy.
The WCD ministry furnished these details in response to a question posed by Congress Rajya Sabha MP Amee Yajnik. The ministry also said that it now intends to move away from advocacy.
The government said in a detailed reply that in the year of its inception, in 2014-15, the government used Rs 21.46 crore of the Rs 50 crore allocated on advocacy. In all, Rs 34.84 crore were utilised. Similarly, in 2015-16, Rs 21 crore of the Rs 75 crore allocated was set aside for publicity, and in 2016-17, it was Rs 25.84 crore of the Rs 43 crore allocated.
In 2017-18, Rs 135.92 crore of the Rs 200 crore allocated was used for advoacy, and in 2018-19, the year when the fund received maximum allocation – Rs 280 crore – Rs 164 crore as used on publicity. Rs 25.75 crore of the Rs 200 crore allocation in 2019-2020, and Rs 7 crore of the Rs 100 allocated in 2020-21 were used for the same purpose. In 2021-22, no amount of the Rs 100 crore allocated was used for advocacy.
The ministry said in its reply, that the scheme was designed to “bring an attitudinal shift” in the society towards valuing the girl child, and so more expenditure was diverted towards media advocacy in the initial stages.
“Now, as the scheme has been able to create awareness for the cause, focus on media advocacy campaign has been shifted to zero budget or minimal expenditure based in the past 2 years,” the ministry said.
Earlier this month, the ministry issued guidelines stating that the scheme will now move towards “zero publicity”, and it will now be extended to adolescent boys, newly married couples and expecting parents.
In December last year, a Parliamentary panel headed by BJP MP Heena Gavit, noted the under utilisation of funds for the scheme.
Among the positive outcomes of the scheme, the ministry said, was the betterment in key indicators such as an improved sex ratio at birth (SRB) and larger enrollemnt for girl children in secondary education.
This included an improvement of 19 points in the SRB from 918 in 2014-15 to 937 in 2020-21, increase in enrollment of girls in secondary education from 75.51 per cent to 79.46 per cent, increase in registration of pregnant women in first trimester from 61 per cent to 73.9 per cent, and increase in percentage of institutional deliveries from 87 per cent to 94.8 per cent during the same period.