Saturday, 5 November 2016

Flight of the sparrow : “beti bachao beti padhao” initiatives in nicobar

“he for God,
she for god in him”
-         John Milton in “paradise lost

well!! Not quite!!! Nicobar presents itself as a perfect exception to a generally discriminatory World. It is a society where no gender discrimination takes place. There  is no fasting or praying for the birth of a male child. The birth of a girl child is as much a celebration as a boy child’s birth. Daughters are educated at par with their brothers.  There is no dowry and certainly no concept of the woman at the mercy of in-laws.  Yes!! this utopian arcadia does exist in the southern most district of India. It is a society where this half of the population is given the full sky to spread their wings and fly high. The apotheosis of this limitless flight can be seen in the case of Ms. Deborah Harold, the world No. 4 cyclist from our very own kakana village in Carnicobar, whose parents, tuhet and village didn’t see her being a girl as a hindrance but encouraged her at every step to reach the position she is in and are continuing to do so.
When district Nicobar was included in our National Government’s flagship programme “Beti Bachao Beti Padhao” , we were surprised as Nicobar enjoys fairly good sex ratio and doesn’t practice discrimination. But then we saw it as a great opportunity to even further broaden the horizons for our girls and women.
We identified the areas where we thought more could be done:
Health, Hygiene and Nutrition : awareness camps with the help of  medical doctors were organized in which discussions were held about adolescent girls and women’s health, the problem of malnutrition, prevalence of anemia and the ways to control it, the menstrual and gynaecological health, upkeep of hygienic practices etc. Demonstrations were given to properly wash hands,  to clean teeth and tongue after each meal, to dispose of sanitary tissues etc. . Kits containing  hand towel, liquid hand wash, toothpaste, tooth brush, sanitary napkin, date and almonds were distributed.

Figure 1 distribution of health, hygiene and nutrition kits by Hon'ble LG Prof. Jagdish Mukhi ji on 27th Oct 2016

Child protection, awareness about “good touch, bad touch”, POCSO and prevention of teenage pregnancy: an extensive campaign was done to reach to every girl child and teach her the meaning of good touch and bad touch through a short film called “komal”. Nicobar Police joined hands with the district team in explaining POCSO and protection of children from physical or mental abuse. One matter of great concern in the district was and still remains, is the prevalence of teenage pregnancy which requires both tact and strategy. This year our target is to develop a full-fledged strategy to combat this problem that kills the adolescence of girls and pushes them in to an early womanhood. This year Police department also plans to impart a ten-days basic self-defense training to Nicobarese  girls.

Organizing competitions to enhance the academic excellence : various competitions like essay writing, quizzing, speech competitions along with poster making, slogan writing, craft making competitions are organized all over the district to bring out a competitive edge amongst the girls of Nicobar. Attractive prizes including bicycles were given to them which were appreciated in far flung islands of Chowra as well.

Zonal sports competitions: Nicobarese people do extremely well in sports. Various competitions including cycle race, 100m, 200m and 400m , sack race, needle race, 3 legged race, shot put, long jump, high jump etc are organized from time to time to further hone the inherent sports potential among girl children. The winners of the sports competition held in feburary 2016 were given very attractive cash prizes.
      Figure 2: picture of cycle race, held in feburary 2016.

Beti janmohatsav and post-natal maternal health: It was realized that apart from felicitating mothers and newly born girl children with baby bedding and bath kits, it was important to ensure that proper nutrition was being provided to mothers. For this post natal checkup, emphasis on mother’s milk and mother’s daily nutritional
requirements was made. New mothers were also given nutrition kits that included horlicks, dates, almonds and other dry fruits.

Figure 3: distribution of baby bedding and mothers' nutrition kit by perka village captain, Sh. Moses Reuben

Skill development by provision of training through other departments: other departments like agriculture, animal husbandry and industries are poised to organize a fortnight long training for 50 girls in each of the three sub-divisonal blocks, to enhance their capability and impart skills to make them employable or help them form self help groups to start small enterprises.

Awareness programmes: a plethora of programmes were done all over the district to bring out the best in girl children. A team called “dhoomketu group” sent by Ministry of broadcasting, Song and Drama Division was sent to organize puppet shows, magic shows and nukkad nataks all over the district. The team was accompanied by our CDPO, Smt Indira devi and performed at Chowra, Teressa, Katchal, Nancowry, Kamorta, Campbell bay and delighted. The district was dotted with Cycle rally, candle marches and media rallies which were great festivals witnessed by the islanders.

Figure 4:  magic show by dhoomketu group in kinyuka village

 Apart from these a series of events like great women themed fancy dress competition, baby girl shows, distribution of sanitary napkins, cultural evenings, showcasing of women oriented movies like “chak de” etc took place, which were well appreciated by the people of Nicobar and especially among women of Nicobar. The greatest achievement this year had been an increase of 35% in this year’s class 12th result while the class 10th result increased by 1% to 97.9%. We also saw a decrease in cases of anaemia, skin diseases and viral hepatitis which has encouraged us.  This year too we intend to carry the previous year’s legacy even further link the programme with the improvement of  our district’s  IMR and MMR, prevention of teenage pregnancy, felicitation of academic excellence, skill development, capacity building and a overall holistic development of the girl children to help them become better humans, better citizens and the pride and glory of our great nation

BBBP poster designed by Dhruw Nath Singh, PGT