Features Sunday, June 14, 2015 - 05:30
“Beti bachao, selfie banao”. One of the latest words inducted into the English language has found its place in the lexicon of the residents of the Bibipur village panchayat of Haryana. The village sarpanch has asked people to send in their pictures along with their daughters as part of an initiative to uplift women. The first half of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “Beti bachao, Beti padhao” initiative is arguably most needed in the state of Haryana, where the sex ratio is known to favour the male child. Sarpanch of Bibipur, Sunil Jaglan, with his daughter “Since becoming sarpanch, I have tried to extend my help to causes like female foeticide over the past five years,” says Sunil Jaglan, sarpanch of Bibipur, to The News Minute. Haryana’s sex ratio of 879 women to 1000 men is among the lowest in the country according to Census data from 2011. While the national average is 940, the state has showed an improvement considering the ratio stood at 0.861 in 2001. On 14 July 2012, Jaglan had organised something unique. “Close to 200 women spoke on female foeticide at a khap mahapanchayat.” The attempt was, save the use of an oft repeated idiom, ‘one of a kind’. Jaglan says that he has attended khap panchayat’s and that there are positives that can be drawn from them too. “Panchayats from Punjab, UP, Rajasthan, Delhi and Haryana were present there,” he says. Bibipur’s plight has been a bit unique too. In 2012, the Avivahit Purush Sanghthan (the Unmarried Men’s Union) was formed as eligible bachelors bemoaned the lack of brides due to the poor sex-ratio. The sarpanch’s latest selfie campaign though has met a “zabardast (fantastic)” response, according to him. “More than 300 pictures have flooded my Whatsapp,” he says. Parents from the village will get a cash prize of Rs 2,100 with a certificate and trophy when the winners of the local Haryana selfie competition are announced on June 19. And while the entries are coming in thick and fast, Bibipur’s sarpanch still bemoans a fact. “South India se ek bhi nahi aayi hai ab tak” (We haven’t got an entry from the south yet), he says, laughing. All pictures courtesy Sunil Jaglan