In October 2013he Government of West Bengal has launched “Kanyashree Prakalpa”–a conditional cash transfer scheme for girls. The scheme through its inception is based of flawed assumptions.
Kanyashree’s core objectives are:
1. to ensure that girls stay in school
2. to delay their marriages till at least age 18.
Kanyashree’s approach is conditional Cash Transfers. The scheme has two cash transfer components:
The first is an Annual incentive of Rs. 750/- to be paid annually to the girls in the age group 13 to 18 years (studying in Class VIII equivalent or above for every year that they remained in education, provided they are unmarried at the time.
The second is a One-Time Grant of Rs. 25,000/-, to be paid after a girl turns 18, provided that she was engaged in an academic or occupational pursuit and was unmarried.
The term ‘education’ encompasses secondary and higher secondary education, as well as the various vocational, technical and sports courses available for this age group. Given that children from socio-economically disadvantaged families are more vulnerable to child marriage, the scheme is open only to girls from families whose annual income is Rs. 1,20,000/- or less. For girls with special needs, orphans and girls in J. J. Homes the income criterion is waived. Girls with special needs, but in a class below class VIII, can also apply for the annual scholarship.
It is based on the belief that
1. Though child marriage affects both adolescent boys and girls, the impact and intensity on girls is undoubtedly more pronounced.
2. Further the strong correlation between child marriage and the increased female school drop-out rates in India.
Both these assumptions are flawed. Child marriage affects adolescent boys equally. Boys are forced to engage in labour forces to support their families. In India more boys engaged as child labourers than girls.
More boys dropout from school because they are forced to take employment. This is corroborated by The Global Gender Gap Report 2015.The Global Gender Gap Index was first introduced by the World Economic Forum in 2006 as a framework for capturing the magnitude of gender-based disparities and tracking their progress. The report clearly shows that more boys drop out of primary schools than girls in India.
While child marriage is bad, early marriage is good. Early marriage reduces marital discords as both partners grow together and hence they adjust with each other very easily. The scheme intends to discourage marriage and motherhood and encourage women into workforce. These are obviously feminist goals.
Hence we can conclude that Kanyashree Prakalpa-is a flawed scheme and is biased against boys. Instead of limiting it to girls, the scheme should include boys.