Special financial assistance for girl child, would-be mothers in Assam

February 19th, 2009 - 12:49 pm ICT by IANS  

Guwahati, Feb 19 (IANS) The Assam government has come up with an ingenious scheme worth Rs.1.8 billion to do away with the traditional gender bias by offering financial assistance to the girl child and radical measures to improving the health of would-be mothers.
As part of a scheme named ‘Majoni’ (Assamese for little girls), a new-born girl child would be given a fixed deposit instrument worth Rs.5,000, while a would-be mother would get Rs.1,000 in cash - Rs.500 each during the first two check ups.

But there is a catch. The scheme is applicable only to those who were born in government or charitable hospitals. And the same rule applies for would-be mothers to get the cash incentives - they have to get their check-ups in government-run hospitals.

“The fixed deposit of Rs.5,000 could be encashed by the girl herself when she attains the age of 16 (50 percent of the total amount accrued) and the full amount when she turns 18,” Assam Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma told IANS.

“She can use the money to get admission in a college when she turns 16 after passing her board exams, and two years later when she completes 12th standard and qualifies to get admission in engineering or a medical college, she can use the remaining amount,” he said.

Fatima Akhtar, a three-week-old girl child, was the first recipient of the Majoni scheme with Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi handing over the fixed deposit to her mother at a function in Guwahati Wednesday.

“We want to do away with any form of gender bias and help the girl child grow with dignity,” the health minister said.

The special assistance scheme for the girl child would cost the state exchequer Rs.1 billion annually.

“Would-be mothers who come for check-ups in government hospitals would get Rs.500 each during the first two visits. At least when they go home, they can buy some nutritious food with the money,” the minister said.

The government also launched an ambitious family planning scheme - couples choosing not to have children for two years after getting married would get an incentive of Rs.5,000 and those who opt not to have children for three years would get Rs.7,500.

“These schemes definitely would encourage people to react positively,” Sarma said.

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