This wonderful news comes to us from Rajasthan, India.
The declining sex ratio in many parts of India in the last decade has had sociologists, political analysts and intellectuals very worried and concerned. At a time when even stringent legal provisions have not been able to end female infanticide and feticides, one man’s mission in a village has set an example of reformation.
In the village of Piplantri in the Rajsamand district of Rajasthan, the birth of a girl child would mean bad news. There was a hefty dowry system prevalent in the village and infanticide and feticide were not unheard of. In this situation, a social campaigner and ex-sarpanch of the village ShyamSundarPaliwal envisioned a bright future for girls. In his belief that if the parents of the newborn girls planted trees and nurtured them for 18 years, they could arrange for enough money to pay for the girl’s wedding when she came of age.
Paliwal made a good start by collaborating with the government. In the initial days, he faced many hurdles with the implementation of the project. However, the Piplanti village Panchayat had received many awards for the execution of different government schemes and this motivated the villagers to try out this new idea.
To celebrate the birth of the girl child, 111 trees are planted by her parents, grandparents, and relatives. The village Panchayat takes care of these trees so that the efforts of the relatives do not go to waste. Different women’s self-help groups, elderly ladies, grandmothers, and aunts take care of the maintenance of the trees from time to time. This work is done under the auspices of the KiranNidhiYojna that was adopted by Paliwal.
Paliwal also made use of the Panchayat at your doorstep programs to tour the village and speak to women on empowerment. He managed to get the women self-help groups and Bhamashahs to consider this scheme from the perspective of the safety of girls. As the idea took off, the villagers realized that there was no need to worry about dowry because the trees they plant when a girl child is born will take care of her expenses in the future.
It is because of men like Paliwal that villages in India are slowly shedding the ‘backward’ tag and slowly becoming self-reliant and progressive.
Image source: The Better India