Parliament panel to government: Reconsider spending on ads under the 'Beti Bachao' scheme; focus on education and health.

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According to a parliamentary commission, more than 78% of the total Rs 446.72 crore released for the “Beti Bachao Beti Padhao” scheme between 2016 and 2019 was primarily used for media campaigning, suggesting that the government should rethink its spending on marketing. The government should instead concentrate on scheduled expenditure allocation for sectoral interventions in education and health under the government’s flagship programme, according to the parliamentary standing committee.

On Thursday, the Lok Sabha heard the sixth report from the Committee on the Empowerment of Women (2021–2022) on the steps taken in the area of “Empowerment of Women through Education with Special Reference to “Beti Bachao Beti Padhao” (BBBP) Scheme.” The panel claimed that over the past six years, BBBP has been successful in drawing the attention of political leadership and raising the value of the female child in the country through targeted lobbying. It was stated that “now is the time to concentrate on other verticals by establishing adequate financial allocations to help accomplish measurable objectives relating to education and health anticipated under the scheme.”

The committee recommended that the government should, going forward, reconsider spending on advertisements under the scheme and concentrate on planned expenditure allocation for sectoral interventions in education and health. It called the programme one of the most significant government initiatives to improve the child sex ratio in underdeveloped regions and ensure the education of girls. The committee stated that frequent or quarterly meetings are to be held to examine the progress at the district level in accordance with the principles of the programme. According to the paper, regular reports and photographic documentation at the district level are required for the regular process of recording all operations carried out at the district/block and gramme panchayat levels.

“The committee discovers a gap in the timely collection of monthly reports or statements of expenditure from districts and the failure to hold the required number of task force meetings. Such instances of breaking the rules are blatant signs that the programme is not being properly examined or overseen “said the committee. The panel observed that in order to guarantee compliance, routine audits and real-time updating of operations are required. The statement read, “The committee also determines that records of the activities held for information, education, and communication with the national task force authorities at the state/district level are not maintained.”

The panel advised the Ministry of Women and Child Development, which serves as the “Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao” scheme’s nodal ministry, to make sure that national, state, and district task forces’ review meetings are conducted in accordance with the scheme’s rules. The committee recommended that the ministry construct the online management information system portal as soon as possible for monitoring and supervision at the state, district, block, and village levels and to make the data in the web portal available for transparency and real-time monitoring. “BBBP should compulsorily undergo a social audit, either by a civil society organisation or by a third party/expert at the district level, and the results may be shared with this committee,” it stated.

Mayank Tewari

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