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PM's 'Nari Shakti' speech: Activists question Modi on implementation of schemes for women

Women rights activists on Monday questioned Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the actual implementation of schemes for women on the ground, after he hailed 'nari shakti' in his Independence Day speech.

PMs Nari Shakti speech: Activists question Modi on implementation of schemes for women snt
New Delhi, First Published Aug 15, 2022, 4:22 PM IST

Women rights activists on Monday questioned Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the actual implementation of schemes for women on the ground after he hailed 'Nari Shakti' in his Independence Day speech. 

Prime Minister Modi urged people to promise not to do anything that degrades the dignity of women during his address to the nation on the 76th anniversary of the country's independence. He added that a tendency to denigrate women in remarks and behaviour had crept in.

Modi emphasised the need to support "Nari Shakti" and stated that respect for women is a crucial tenet of India's development.

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Regarding implementing women's empowerment programmes, activists tried restraining Prime Minister Modi. The first and primary problem, according to social activist and founder of the non-profit Akancha Srivastava Foundation, Akancha Srivastava, is the protection and education of women.

"Access to education for girls has been very, very disproportionate, so I would like to see what are those policy changes. If we look at two, three-tier towns, there are many towns where girls still don't have access to washrooms in schools because of the mindset that girls are not considered to be somebody who would take their education seriously," she told PTI. 

She asked where the practical safety measures were to be implemented with the Nirbhaya fund. "I am glad we are speaking about it, but till there is no Suraksha and Shiksha there could be no shakti. Even if there are measures, they must be scaled up 100 times. There is a little bit of a gap in implementation - there are all things in place, policies, funds and a genuine intention, but I want to see the execution," she said. 

Kavita Krishnan, an All India Progressive Women's Association member, said it is always applauded when an elected official discusses the need to "alter the mentality towards women" in daily life.

"My concern is that this kind of "advice" ('upadesh') is usually too general, never specific. So it rings hollow because there is silence on Modi's own supporters who auction Muslim women online, on Hindu-supremacist Yati Narsinhanand who has called for the rape of Muslim women and referred to women in BJP as sluts, and on those whom Modi himself follows on Twitter who attack women like me in the vilest language," she said. 

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Krishnan pointed out that in the last budget, the gender budget decreased from 0.71 per cent of the GDP of the revised estimates for 2021-22 to 0.66 per cent in the budgetary estimates of 2022-2023. 

"Modi speaks of Nari Shakti, but in the Union Budget 2022-23, the budget allocated for Mission Shakti (Mission for Protection and Empowerment for Women) was increased to a mere Rs 3,184 crore from Rs 3,109 crore in 2021-22! The combined budget for Mission Shakti, Mission Samarthya and Mission Vatsalya was below 1 per cent of the total expenditure," she said. 

She charged that the prime minister has been silent on BJP state governments which have been stopping women and girls from attending schools and colleges for wearing hijab. 

Yogita Bhayana, a women's rights activist who heads 'People Against Rape in India', said 'Beti Bachao Beti Padhao' was also spoken about from the ramparts of Red Fort. Still, we hear about atrocities against women every day. 

"As a prime minister, it is good that he is giving this message loud and clear but for it to be converted on ground, efforts have to be put in. Policies have to change and utilisation of funds towards women have to be his own party and government he has to give equal opportunities to women," she said. 

She stressed that the message is important, but its implementation is even more critical. 

"I don't see any vision of the Women and Child Development ministry. It has been made so low key. We have to work towards it. NGOs' roles have been cut and the government is not supporting empower women deliberations used to take place a lot earlier even now that have also reduced," Bhayana said. 

"They have to come up with a roadmap. You tell people to change their mindset. Laws like 498 A are being diluted how women will be empowered. Implementation has to be made strong," she told PTI. 

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Section 498A states that whoever, the husband or a relative of the husband, subjects a woman to cruelty (for property or dowry) shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years. Such an offence is cognisable and non-bailable under the law. 

The Supreme Court had observed a need to reduce the growing instances of 'abuse' of the said provision as innocent family members, including senior citizens, were often harassed under Section 498A.

(With inputs from PTI)

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