More than 56% of the funds for the “Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao” scheme have been allocated for media-related activities since 2014-’15, with less than 25% being distributed to states and districts, information released by the government has shown. The scheme, launched in January 2015, attempts to address the declining child sex ratio and other issues of women empowerment in India.

Union Minister of State for Women and Child Development Virendra Kumar told the Lok Sabha on January 4 that the government had allocated Rs 648 crore for the programme in the last five years and spent 56.27% of it, or Rs 364.66 crore, on advertising. Only 24.5%, or Rs 159.18 crore, was disbursed to states and districts.

The Centre had earmarked Rs 280 crore for the scheme in 2018-’19, out of which Rs 155.71 crore was allocated for advertising and Rs 70.63 crore distributed to states and districts. The government had failed to release Rs 53.66 crore, or over 19% of the funds.

This number was higher in 2017-’18, with 68% of the Rs 200 crore, or Rs 135.71 crore, allocated to advertising. In 2016-’17, the government had earmarked Rs 29.79 crore for publicity as opposed to distributing Rs 2.9 crore to states and districts.

Kumar was responding to a question by MPs Kapil Patil and Shivkumar Udasi of the Bharatiya Janata Party, Sushmita Dev of the Congress, Gutha Sukender Reddy of the Telangana Rashtra Samithi, and Sanjay Jadhav of the Shiv Sena.

When asked if the scheme had failed due to lack of policy implementation, ineffective monitoring mechanisms and diversion of funds, Kumar replied in the negative. “Since 2018-’19, all 640 districts [as per Census 2011] of the country have been covered under Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao scheme,” he answered.