The amount spent on media campaigns saw a sharp increase in 2017-18 and 2018-19, before sharply declining in 2019-20 and 2020-21.

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news Education Thursday, February 03, 2022 - 19:01

Fifty-eight per cent of the funds allocated to the Union government’s Beti Bachao Beti Padhao (BBBP) campaign went into media advocacy, as per an answer given by the Union government in the Rajya Sabha. In a response to Trinamool Congress MP Derek O’ Brien’s question, the Ministry of Women and Child Development said that of the total expenditure of Rs 683.05 crore toward the scheme between 2014-15 and 2020-21, Rs 401.04 crore — or 58% — went towards media campaigns.  

Beti Bachao Beti Padhao is a flagship scheme of the Narendra Modi government which was launched in 2015 to address declining child sex ratio and focuses on issues such as sex-selective termination and protection of the girl child. The answer claimed that key elements of the scheme include nationwide media and advocacy campaigns. “As per the scheme guidelines, fund is earmarked for districts identified for multi-sectoral interventions, for extending community outreach, advocacy and generating awareness, inter alia, through various means, including media,” it said.

It added that in the initial phase, the emphasis has been on media for awareness generation and to bring about a shift in attitude. “The all India advertisements of BBBP have been able to successfully establish the brand BBBP which has an excellent recall value. But, in the last 2 years, expenditure on Media Advocacy campaign at Central Level has sharply declined. The present focus in on behavioral change communication which requires community-based events, use of social media platforms, advocacy through webinars, use of my-gov platform and convergence with other Ministries for branding and advocacy,” the answer read. 

The amount spent on media campaigns saw a sharp increase in 2017-18 and 2018-19, before sharply declining in 2019-20 and 2020-21. 

A Parliamentary Committee report on women empowerment also flagged poor utilisation of funds by states under the scheme and suggested that the government needs to focus more on education and health than on advertising the scheme. Titled ‘Empowerment of Women through Education with Special Reference to Beti Bachao-Beti Padhao Scheme’ and tabled in the Lok Sabha in December 2021, it said that since the inception of the scheme in 2014-15 till 2019-20, its total budgetary allocation was Rs 848 crore. An amount of Rs 622.48 crore was released to the states during this period.

“The committee finds that out of a total of Rs 446.72 crore released during the period 2016-2019, a whopping 78.91% was spent only on media advocacy. Though the committee understands the necessity to undertake a media campaign to spread the message of ‘Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao’ among the people, they feel that it is equally important to balance the objectives of the scheme,” it said.

Noting that over the last six years, through focused advocacy, BBBP has been able to capture the attention of the political leadership and national consciousness towards valuing the girl child, the report said now the scheme should focus on other verticals by making financial provisions to help achieve measurable outcomes related to education and health envisaged under the scheme.

“Since BBBP is one of the most important schemes of the government to improve child sex ratio in backward regions and ensure the education of the girl children, the committee recommends that the government should, hereafter, reconsider spending on advertisements under the ‘Beti Bachao-Beti Padhao’ scheme and should focus on planned expenditure allocation for sectoral interventions in education and health,” it added.

With inputs from PTI

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