Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Palna - WCD Initiative

In a bid to stop the alarming rate of feticides in India WCD (Women and Child Development) has come out with a scheme- palna. There will be a cradle or palna in every district. If you are expecting a girl child and you don’t want to raise her you can simply leave her at the palna in your district. Later if these people have a change of heart they can take the child back. Full news here (1, 2, 3)

Now there are some positive aspects related to it.

  • It is aimed at correcting the skewed sex- ratio in India. Sex ratio (females per 1000 males) as per 2001 data is 933 with Haryana, Punjab and Delhi far worse in these figures.

  • It has been declared as an extension of ICDS (Integrated Child Development Services Scheme).

  • I am not aware what percentage such children would have made of total orphan children. But such children if at all born and left to fend for themselves in hospitals can’t be brought up in normal orphanages. They need more secured environment which palna may just be able to provide them

But there are some reasons as to why I am a bit ambivalent about it

  • Firstly because how would this palna differently from Rajiv Gandhi Creche Scheme.

  • Now there are already so many ailing orphanages in India. Some districts don’t have any. So wouldn’t obviously the govt. should have first strengthened its network of orphanages.

  • “The govt. will take care of the girl child” is a very ambiguous phrase, since if the govt. means that govt. will make these girl children self-reliant and self-sufficient then I think its old wine in new bottle. The govt. has been aiming the same in orphanages but the success rate of such schemes is quite less.

  • While ICDS is a very innovative idea that aims to empower the mother by making her aware and self-reliant, since this is a new idea of its own dealing with children who can be empowered only after careful bringing up, it becomes very imperative that an NGO will good track records takes this up. Else it will just be another torn feather for govt.’s cap.

  • Would it not promote the culture wherein parents may simply not want to take responsibilities of their children? It shouldn’t be a precursor to opening up of palna for another child.

While it is quite clear that the intentions are noble but the execution part is always the most difficult one and in countries like India where govts’ small follies are highlighted more than its huge success, it is very essential that govt. is very clear what they wish to achieve and how are they going to.