Girl Child – Protecting & Improving her lot while also encouraging Infrastructure Projects

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Girl Child – Protecting & Improving her lot while also encouraging Infrastructure Projects by Maj P. Tuhinikar Choudary (Retd)  Chairman – Institute for Democratic & Economic Affairz (IDEAz) Summary: Girl children in our Society, especially from the poor sections need protection and a more equitable chance to grow properly, be educated and capable and productive members. This can be done, as suggested below without any actual cash flow from the revenues of the Country. Highlights:

  • Female foeticide, female ill-health and malnutrition, female illiteracy and child marriage, are all problems to be addressed.
  • Infrastructure projects need long-term finance from the Government.
  • When the Government subsidizes so many groups in such large ways, perhaps a proper subsidy arrangement to meet the Girl Child requirements is the order of the day.

Protection for Girl Child: The option to invest long term in equity markets through properly regulated Mutual Funds investing in approved long-term infrastructure proposals., which desperately need such long term funding, can also be used to improve and protect the lot of the girl child in those sections of the Society’s populations where today the girl child is majorly disadvantaged. The Government could offer to subsidize all girl children of poor families by say Rs. 20,000/- each on their 1st birthday invested in such Mutual Funds, to be drawn out at the rate of 20% each year on their 18th, 19th, 20th and 21st birthdays and the balance on their 25th birth day. This will infuse better stability to the individual’s finances. Even at a conservative return of 10 percent per year, the initial Rs. 20,000/- will in 17 years become at least Rs. 1.01 lakhs, thus making every poor girl child a ‘Lakhpati’ by her 18th birthday. It should be made clear that such amount will be to the credit of the girl only and that if she dies before the withdrawal date, the amount will revert to the Government. This will ensure against the evils of female feticide, female illiteracy, female ill-health/malnutrition, early marriage etc. This will also lead to better female education. “If we educate a boy, we educate one person. If we educate a girl, we educate a family – and a whole nation.” -African proverb. In the initial stages this could be limited to up to only 2 girl children per poor family on their 1st birthday. Also at the start of the programme girls over 1 year age but less than 10 years age could be considered for at least some similar subsidy even if at a lower rate or for up to a few years longer to make the scheme more inclusive and equitable. Also since the Government is in any case, already committed for investment in such Projects, this proposal does not in any way call for any extra allocations from its present resources, it only calls for re-distribution of the long term income thereof as a social subsidy payable at a later date, which again is also an aim for the Government. A subsidy that from day one, encourages the right behaviour and attitude and improves the lot of the presently disadvantaged girl children, will itself lead to greater productivity by then. Providing a similar option to other families, especially from the lower and middle class, to also invest their monies in such long-term funds in favour of their children (both boys & girls), and encouraging them to do so by offering them a tax-free return after 15 or 20 years, will generate huge inflows for the approved Projects which will thus also reduce the call on the Government’s own monies. Considering the overall benefits, such a Tax-Free option will actually be of advantage to the Government and will be line with what is now offered for Capital Gains. Conclusion: Every girl child is as much a treasure to our Country as a boy child. However in poor families the girl child is greatly mistreated. This affects future generations too. Hence it is essential that the scheme as given above is implemented at the earliest to enable such girl children to become happy and capable members of our Society. Beti Bachao! Beti Padhao! Parivar Ka Unnati Badhao! Jai Hind!

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