One of the primary reasons of a resounding support given to Narendra Modi in 2014 elections by the women was his and BJP manifesto shown commitment to the cause, development, security, health and education of women, towards which several schemes and projects were taken up and slogans given. However, going beneath the surface, RTI revelations of government's facts and figures present a dismal picture.
Kishori Shakti Yojana
During 2006-07 there was a scheme called “Kishori Shakti Yojona” which seeks to empower adolescent girls, so as to enable them to take charge of their lives. To realize their full potential, govt wanted to provide them an opportunity to get reliant and live a dignified live. In fact the scheme was an extension part of already existing ICDS scheme. The target group was 11 to 18 years across the country, to be précise, in 6118 blocks of India. The ultimate objective was to make a girl healthy physically and mentally, link them to opportunities for learning skills, motivate them to go back to school, help them understand their social environment and take initiatives to become productive.
The KYS scheme was yielding results earlier, as per RTI reply by the Modi government. In the year 2010-11, the central govt has spent Rs.3,365 crores and covered 24.81 lac girls by providing training for skill development. During 2014-15, in the first budget of Modi Government, it had been drastically reduced to Rs.1489 Crore, whereas the expenditure made on KSY by various state governments turned out to be Rs.1602 crores. But only around 15.18 lac girls got the benefit. Before phasing out KSY, in the year 2017-18, Govt of India provided only Rs.464 crores to provide skill development to 6.28 lac girls. But from April 1, 2018, Project KYS has been discontinued.
Mahila Shakti Kendra
In November 2017 Modi Government came up with a new scheme for Women empowerment, named Mahila Shakti Kendra. The scheme with validity till 2020 has to cover 640 districts of the country through District Level Centre for Women (DLCW). These Centres will serve as a link between village, block and state level in facilitating women centric schemes and also strengthen the Beti Bachao Beti Padhao scheme at the district level. Also to make it a grand success, community engagement through College Student Volunteers was envisioned in 115 most backward districts as part of Block level initiatives. During the first Phase (2017-18), 220 districts are supposed to be covered and similarly 220 more DLCW were proposed to be established in 2018-19 and the remaining 200 districts to be covered in 2019-20. Funding would be in 60:40 ratio between Centre and State. For Northeastern states and Special Category States it would be 90:10 and for Union Territories it will 100% funded by the Centre. Government of India had released only 61.40 crore during 2017-18 and a meagre 52.67 crore till end of 2018.
According to RTI reply, only 22 districts have so far made DLCW functional which includes 5 most Backward Districts of India. Bihar has 10 most backward districts among lowest 25 districts and got around 12.8 crore but not a single DLCW has became functional. Similarly 19 Districts of Jharkhand are listed in Backward Districts of 115 and got maximum amount of Rs.18.65 crore among all the states but not a single centre became functional till date. Same is the scenario for Chhattisgarh which has received 9.86 crore but yet to establish a Centre in an district. The RTI reply also confirmed that not a single state has reported about functional status of an Mahila Shakti Kendra.
Maternity Benefit Scheme
Modi government took two and half years to redraw the Indira Gandhi Matrikva Sahyog Yojana (IGMSY) to provide Rs.6000 to each poor pregnant woman in two instalments in vogue since 1980s. From January 1, 2017, a new scheme has been launched in the name of Pradhan Mantri Matri Vandana Yojana (PMMVY) and the amount for the beneficiary has been reduced to Rs. 5000/- and number of instalments has been increased to 3.
According to a report published by Hindustan Times on January 15, 2018, only 2% beneficiaries got aid under this maternity scheme even one year after rolling out the same. RTI response to our queries tells that till November 30, 2018, the Govt has distributed Rs.1656 crores among nearly 20 lac eligible mothers, but ironically it has spent Rs.6966 crores to distribute this amount. So for dolling out of every Rs.100, the Government has spent nearly 4.3 times as administrative expenses which is mind-blowing. Odisha made a dubious record of identifying only 5 beneficiaries thus distributed Rs. 25000/- only till November 2018.
Family Counselling Centre (FCC)
The scheme of Family Counselling Centres was introduced by Central Social Welfare Board in 1983 to provide counselling, referral and rehabilitative services to women and children who are victims of atrocities, family maladjustments and social ostracism and also provide crisis intervention and trauma support in case of natural disasters. The Centres also create awareness and mobilize public opinion on social
issues affecting status of women. The FCCs work in close collaboration with the local administration, police, courts, free legal aid cells, medical and psychiatric institutions, vocational training centres, short stay homes etc. So it was an well conceived approach for women safety and security purpose.
We tried to find out how Modi Government has improved in this Sector. The RTI reply was shocking. During the last five years, 219 Centers are closed. During 2014-15, when 895 Centres were operational the total expenditure was Rs.1645 crores and then onwards centres were continuously reduced but expenditures constantly shot up.
Beti Padhao, Beti Bachao
The much talked-about BPBB project was launched in January 2015 by Modi government from Panipat and it aimed to develop sex ratio and ensure higher rate of girl-child education and her security. But CAG report on 2015-16 notes that Rs.5 lacs were given to each district under this scheme, of which only in Panipat itself, Rs.3 lacs were spent merely in the theme gate during the project inauguration. CAG notes that the Women and Child Welfare department spent some Rs.21 lacs in this one event. The seriousness of this project is understood by the fact that the ministry has so far spent Rs.209 crores between 2015 to 2018 in media and advocacy for this project and has given merely Rs.40 crores to the state governments. Unnao and Kathua rape cases by members of the ruling party further made a mockery of this project.
RTI activist Sanjoy Basu & Prof Ujjwal K Chowdhury ( media academic & columnist)