Gender Inequality in India
Despite a rich tradition of worship of the Feminine Divine, India is rated among the worst countries in the world in terms of gender inequalities. In 2013, India was ranked 135 among 187 countries of the world in the United Nations Human Development report, primarily due to its skewed sex ratio and due to the lack of security and opportunities for women in the country. In India, the north Indian states of Delhi, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, and Rajasthan have been trying to spread awareness about the importance of the girl child in family and society. It is with this objective in mind that the Ladli Scheme was launched. The word “Ladli” is used for a beloved daughter, underlining the affection and nurturing that a daughter deserves from her family. The scheme was meant to emphasise the need for female education and opportunities in these states.
Launch of the Ladli scheme in Delhi
In 2007, the female is to male sex ratio in Delhi was estimated to be 848:1,000. To promote the position of the girl child in families and to dissuade parents from going in for selective sex abortion, the government launched a compensatory scheme called the Ladli scheme. The scheme aimed not only at encouraging poor parents of girl children but also at helping in their education. United Nations Population Fund supported this endeavor, the Ladli Yojna which was launched by the then Congress-led state government to commemorate the birth anniversary of late Prime Minister, Rajiv Gandhi.
The scheme was based on the premise that monetary aid should be promoted to the parents of daughters in a phased manner to ensure her safety and well-being. The aid while not immediately available will be added to a kitty upon accomplishment of milestones and when the girl turns 18, a considerable sum would be available to her to invest into her education, vocation, wedding, or as a security fund that she may hold.
The Ladli Scheme is available only to impoverished parents of girl children in Delhi. For a girl to be eligible, her annual family income should not exceed INR 1 lakh. The Ladli Yojna is available only to girls who are born, brought up, and educated in Delhi. Her school must be a recognized institution. Only two girl children of each family are deemed eligible to avail the benefits of the scheme.
The aid amount is deposited by the government with the State Bank of India Life Insurance Company Ltd. on proof of achievement of certain milestones.
Under the scheme the following amounts are deposited at the following stages –
Milestone Amount (INR.)
Birth of a daughter (after 1-Jan-08)
- Birth (Institutional Delivery) 11000
- Birth (Home Delivery) 10000
- Admission to Class I 5000
- Admission to Class VI 5000
- Admission to Class IX 5000
- Passing Class X 5000
- Admission to Class XII 5000
At the age of 18, the girl herself will be eligible to withdraw the maturity sum and invest it in her future. The government scheme also promotes the investment of this sum in the girl’s education or vocational training.
As with most schemes intended to alleviate financial distress at the grass root level, awareness of eligibility among those for whom the scheme was intended, remained low. While the scheme did certainly encourage more hospital births, registrations of birth of girls, and education of girls in the state; however, it seems it has done little to change the perception of the importance girls hold in a family and in society. Another recent study suggests that the money received by the girls at 18 is not fruitfully invested in her education or vocation but is used as dowry money.
Measure of Success
Between 2001 and 2013, 2008 was the only year when the sex ratio in Delhi’s population remained favourable to women. The sex ratio in 2008 increased significantly and was pegged at 1004:1000 – the only year in the decade with more birth of girls than boys. Much of this increase was attributed to the resounding success of the Ladli Scheme. Some studies suggest, though, that this unprecedented sex ratio was achieved by registration of births from the previous year. In all, the Ladli Yojna did manage to create a stir among the lower rungs of society and emphasise the role of a girl child, while also stressing the need for her education. Lack of transparency, corruption, and bureaucratic delays have kept it from realizing its potential.
Ladli Schemes in Other States
Haryana had launched the Ladli Scheme as far back as 2005 – 06. This scheme aimed at improving the alarmingly skewed sex ratio in the state and creating a loving nurturing environment for the daughters in Haryanvi society where traditionally daughters have been considered a financial burden. The scheme is only available to the second daughter of the family. On the birth of a second daughter, the government provides aid to the family in the form of an annual grant of INR 5000. This is given for five years. In 2012-13 alone, the state government had released grant amounting to INR 69.82 crores under the scheme and about 32,832 girls had benefited that year. By early 2015, however, the state government felt the need to come up with a scheme for the first daughter of the family as well and the Kanya Kosh was set up.
By 2015, the Ladli Scheme was also launched in the state of Jammu and Kashmir.
Why is Ladli Scheme No Longer in the News?
The launch of the Ladli Scheme was accompanied by much publicity and awareness creation campaigns. The state government of Delhi spent about INR 3.83 crore in 2008 and INR 2.39 crore in 2009 to generate awareness about the yojna. Soon, however, the scheme ran into many roadblocks with some 80-90 percent applications of girls enrolled to the scheme failing to derive benefits due to lack of renewal. There were a number of protests organized. The change of political leadership at the state level did not help either. Though the Ladli Scheme is still open to the girls of Delhi, not much has been done in recent years to promote the scheme.