Panipat (Haryana): Asking people to shun the 18th century mindset of killing daughters and to stay away from "double standards" of differentiating between boys and girls, Prime Minister Narendra Modi Thursday warned that if the mindset about girls was not changed it could lead to dangerous times for future generations.
Launching the nationwide 'Beti Bachao-Beti Padhao' (save girl child, educate her) campaign from Panipat in Haryana, the Prime Minister said that a determined effort was needed to counter the adverse sex ratio in the country.
"If we do not become aware and compassionate about this problem, we will be setting a dangerous precedent for future generations. The message has to go to every family, village and state in India.
"For every 1,000 boys born, 1,000 girls should also be born. In Haryana's Mahendergarh district, for 1,000 boys born, only 775 girls are born. I want to ask you, if girls are not born, where will you get your daughter-in-law," he said.
Saying that he was "pained" about the whole issue, Modi said: "People want an educated daughter-in-law but think many times before educating their own daughters. How long will we have double standards."
"Our mental illness is responsible for this. We give a lot of importance to boys. Many women also do this. For how long will we look at girls as 'paraya dhan'," he said.
"From our mindset, we belong to the 18th century. We are not fit to be called people from the 21st century. In the 18th century, the girl child was allowed to see the mother's face and then put in a milk utensil to kill her. We are worse as we kill our girls in the womb and don't let them be born."
Pointing to the incident of a boy, Prince, who fell into a borewell in Haryana a few years back, Modi said that everyone was concerned about the boy's welfare.
"There was so much concern. But when girls are killed all around us, no one is bothered," he said.
He said that Haryana took pride in its daughter, astronaut Kalpana Chawla. "So many Kalpana Chawlas are killed in the womb and no one bothers," he said, adding that most achievers in recent years were girls and women.
Saying that if the belief that sons helped parents in their old age was true, "so many old age homes would not have opened in the past 50 years."
"We need commitment, compassion and responsibility to stop this sin (against girls). This is not going to change overnight. This sin is being committed for the past 50 years. We will have to create awareness for the next 100 years," Modi said.
"Like a beggar (bhikshu), this PM is begging you for the life of girls," Modi said before administering a pledge to the gathering, dominated by women, to save and educate the girl child.
Questioning the role of doctors, Modi said: "Why earn money from killing girls in the womb...Hope your hands, with which you eat food, are not coloured in someone's blood."
Bollywood actress Madhuri Dixit Nene, who has been made brand ambassador of the campaign, said that the mindset of people has to change.
"It is not only about giving birth to a girl child. She has to get good nutrition, given education, proper healthcare and rights. If there are only males in your homes, schools, trains, offices and other places, will it be right? We will have to have a balance," she said.
Union minister for women and child development Maneka Gandhi said that no country could progress with gender imbalance.
"About 2,000 girls are killed every day. This is shameful. Less women leads to increase in crime and reduction in love and happiness," Gandhi said.
The prime minister flagged off raths (campaign vehicles) on the occasion that will make people aware about the need to save the girl child in areas with an adverse sex ratio.
The campaign has been launched from Haryana as the state has the worst sex ratio (number of females per 1,000 males) and child sex ratio in the country. Out of the 100 worst districts in India for sex ratio, Haryana accounts for 12 districts. Haryana's sex ratio stands at just 879 females per 1,000 males.
The campaign will sensitize people about the need for the safety and education of the girl child, skewed sex ratio, prevention of female foeticide and women empowerment.
Union ministers J.P. Nadda, Ravi Shankar Prasad, Birender Singh, Smriti Irani, Krishan Pal Gurjar, Rao Inderjit Singh and Jayant Sinha, besides Haryana Governor Kaptan Singh Solanki and Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar and other leaders attended the event.
Five northern states, Haryana (12 districts), Punjab (11 districts), Jammu and Kashmir (five), Uttarakhand (two) and Himachal Pradesh (one) and the union territory of Chandigarh (one district) account for the 32 worst districts in the country in relation to sex ratio. Haryana and Punjab are notorious for sex determination tests to know the gender of the unborn child.