UPSC MAINS SOCIOLOGY SYLLABUS
Paper 2 – Section C – Visions of Social Change in India
(vii) Challenges of Social Transformation:
(a) Crisis of development: displacement, environmental problems and sustainability.
(b) Poverty, deprivation and inequalities.
(c) Violence against women.
(d) Caste conflicts.
(e) Ethnic conflicts, communalism, religious revivalism.
(f) Illiteracy and disparities in education.
Achieving gender equality and empowering women is one of the important targets of the Millennium Development Goals (MDG). In 1995, during the World conference on Women in Beijing, the Beijing Platform for Action had resolved to eliminate all forms of discrimination against girl child and to promote the rights of the girl child. Further, the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), and the international commitment of the ‘World Fit for Children’ adopted by the UN General Assembly’s Special Session on Children in 2002, underline the efforts of the international community towards the growth and development of women and children. India is a signatory to all of the above international instruments.
PROBLEMS FACED BY GIRL CHILD IN INDIA
The girl child is still considered as external to the parental home “paraya dhan” to be groomed for the marital home. This is evident in the lowering of sex ratio of the girl child. NFHS- 5 reveals that the sex ratio is at impacting on the very survival chances of the girl child. The most heinous crime of sex selected abortions continues unabatedly in connivance with the medical system and in gross violation of the Pre Conception and Pre- Natal Diagnostics Technique Act.
Girl children are pushed out of educational system as they are sent to government schools in rural areas and families exacerbate the inequality by sending boys to the private English medium schools. The government schools merely act as an institution to provide mid-day meal for the most deprived children due to heavy absenteeism of teachers, irregularity in teaching and blow on the quality leaving children unequipped for reading and writing after completing school. Girls also are supposed to look after siblings and as part of the entrenched gendering process, engage in all the domestic chores for supporting mothers and groomed for a marital home.
Child abuse and sexual abuse is still high despite the promulgation of the most progressive POCSO Act. Functioning of the legal system is lackadaisical with very few cases getting tried and convicted. Trafficking of the girl child is 44% of the trafficking incidents in 2021 as per National Crime Record Bureau.
Poor nutritional status of women during the reproductive period is responsible for the under-nutrition of the children. Therefore, boys and girls are almost equally likely to be undernourished.Anaemia in
adolescent girls, is an equally challenging problem. Almost 7 in 10 children within the age group of 6-59 months were observed to be anaemic.The early marriages of the girls normally results in the early pregnancy of the adolescent girls leading to the birth of the undernourished children.
Child marriage not only violates the human rights of the girl children but it also leads to several harmful consequences for them such as lack of opportunity to education, sexual exploitation, violence and early pregnancy. It deprives the girl children of their childhood and poses serious health risks for them.
GOVERNMENT EFFORTS AND INITIATIVES TO EMPOWER THE GIRL CHILD
The Constitution of India offers all citizens, including girl children, certain basic Fundamental Rights – the right to life and liberty, the right to equality, the right to freedom of speech and expression, the right against exploitation, the right to freedom of religion, the right to conserve culture and the right to constitutional remedies for the enforcement of Fundamental Rights. Further, the Directive
Principles of State Policy directs the State to ensure that all children are provided with services and opportunities to grow and develop in a safe and secure environment. For realising these goals, India has
enacted a series of legislations such as the Child Marriage Restraint Act 1929; Immoral Traffic (prevention) Act, 1956; the Child Labour (prohibition and Regulations Act), 1986; Infant Milk Substitutes, Feeding Bottles and Infant Foods (Regulation of Production, Supply and Distribution) Act, 1992; the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000; PCPNDT Act, 2003; the Prohibition of the Child Marriage
Act, 2006; the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009; the Right to Education Act, 2010; etc.
Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana (PMMVY)
Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojana (PMMVY) is a Maternity Benefit Programme that is implemented in all the districts of the country in accordance with the provision of the National Food Security Act, 2013. It aims in providing partial compensation for the wage loss in terms of cash incentive s so that the woman can take adequate res t before and after delivery of the first living child. The cash incentive provided would lead to improved health seeking behaviour amongst the Pregnant Women and Lactating Mothers (PW& LM).
Balika Samriddhi Yojana (BSY)
The Balika Samriddhi Yojana (BSY) was unveiled by the Central Government in the year 1997. This was done under the blueprint for Women & Child Development for enabling empowerment of girl children in the country. It is known to be a major initiative for supporting the education and birth of the girl child.
POSHAN Abhiyaan targets to reduce the level of stunting, under-nutrition, anaemia and low birth weight babies by reducing mal-nutrition/undernutrition, anaemia among young children as also, focus on adolescent girls, pregnant women and lactating mothers.
Operation Blackboard is a scheme undertaken by the Indian government in 1987 in response to a suggestion made by the NPE of 1986. The main objectives of Operation Blackboard were to improve the quality of primary education, reduce waste and stagnation, and draw more students, particularly girls, into the primary education sector to realise the dream of universal education.
Scheme for Adolescent Girls
The Adolescent Girls (AG) Scheme, implemented by the Ministry of Women and Child Development under Umbrella Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS), primarily aims at breaking the inter-generational life-cycle of nutritional and gender disadvantage and providing a supportive environment for self-development. The key objective of the scheme is to facilitate, educate and empower AGs so as to enable them to become self-reliant and aware citizens.
“Comprehensive Scheme for Prevention of Trafficking for Rescue, Rehabilitation and Re-Integration of Victims of Trafficking for Commercial Sexual Exploitation-Ujjawala”
To prevent trafficking of women and children for commercial sexual exploitation through social mobilization and involvement of local communities, awareness generation programmes, generate public discourse through workshops/seminars and such events and any other innovative activity and to facilitate rescue of victims from the place of their exploitation and place them in safe custody.
It aims to ensure economic and social security to women in distress or victims of difficult circumstances who are in need of institutional support for rehabilitation so that they could lead their life with dignity.
It envisages providing shelter, food, clothing and health as well as economic and social security for these women.
National Rural Livelihood Mission, Programme for Ministry of Rural Development for which Transforming Rural India Foundation extends technical support on livelihoods and Village poverty reduction plan, has developed gender operational strategy for 29 states in the country and has been making efforts to develop institutional mechanisms to address issues of gender equality and equity. Gender Resource Centres are being established at the block level managed by the CLF and the focus is on issues of retention of children in education, prevention of child marriages, gender-based violence and asset creation in the names of women, etc.