The declining sex ratio across the country has led to a number of social issues and complications. The present ratio of 913 women against 1,000 men has caused a spurt in the crimes on the one hand, and damage to the social cohesive structure on the other. In several regions, the youths are forced to lead a solitary life without marriage because of short number of girls.
The sex ratio has declined especially in the financially well-off families. The number of women against men is quite low in the states which are considered rich as a result of a distorted social mindset. Against the sex ratio of 922 women for 1,000 men in Rajasthan, the ratio has declined to 877 in Bharatpur district. This trend is likely to result in non-availability of young women for marriage, leading to social disruptions and obstacles in financial growth.
Keeping in view this serious social problem, the Lupin Human Welfare & Research Foundation of Bharatpur has launched several programmes to encourage the birth of girl children. In a unique initiative, Lupin Foundation is encouraging the couples to take the eighth phera (vow) after the seven pheras with the rounds of holy fire during the Hindu wedding ceremonies.
“The eighth vow is a symbol of the pledge taken by the couple that they would not get the foetal sex determination test conducted on them during pregnancy and if a daughter is born to them, they would raise her with the same care and attention for a son. Besides, new schemes such as Janaksuta and Kanya Poojan have also been started,” says Sita Ram Gupta, Executive Director, Lupin Foundation.
He points out that the scheme is to stop female feticide and encourage the birth of girl children. Though speed of social transformation is very slow, nevertheless, Lupin Foundation is actively making concerted efforts to change the mindset of people at large.
The 8th Phera Scheme, adopted wholeheartedly by the society in Bharatpur district, has started yielding positive results. Gupta says the Lupin Foundation was trying to convert it into a people’s movement in order to inspire the couples to take the eighth vow at the time of their marriage and follow it in its letter and spirit to encourage the birth of girl children.
The scheme was recently started in Bharatpur district with the assistance of a self-help group, as part of which newly-wed couples took the eighth vow at Jarela village in Rupbas tehsil and Baben village in Kumher tehsil. The target has been set to continue the scheme till 2025.
The Foundation had paid an incentive of Rs. 1,100 each to the couples of Saini and Koli communities, who took the eighth vow in their mass wedding programmes organized in Bharatpur district last month. Even though the 8th Phera Scheme is a significant initiative to stop a social evil, the Foundation pays Rs. 1,000 to the couples and assures them that the organization would be with their family during difficult moments and provide financial assistance to them for higher education of their daughters.