Prime Minister's Office08-March, 2018 19:47 IST
English rendering of PM's speech at the launch of National Nutrition Mission and Expansion of BetiBachaoBetiPadhao in Jhunjhunu

Mothers, sisters, brothers and my young friends who are present here in large numbers,

Today is the 8th March. For more than a hundred years the whole world has been observing the International Women's Day which falls on this date. But today the entire country is connected withJhunjhunu. Thegrand view of the today’s event in Jhunjhunu is reaching every corner of the country with the help of technology. I have come herenot just like that; I have come here after doing a lot of analysis. In fact, you have pulled me here. You have compelled me to come here, the reason being the commendable job of carrying forward the BetiBachaoBetiPadhao campaign in this district. Each family of this district has done a commendable job! Naturally I had this urge to visit the soil of Jhunjhunu.

Vasundharaji was saying just a short while ago that this is the land of heroes. She was talking about the power of this land. Jhunjhunu has proved its excellence in every sector be it social service, education, charity or sacrificing lives for the country. It has never accepted defeat and it knows how to carry on whether it is war or drought. So, the country will get a new strength and inspiration from the work that is being carried out by Jhunjhunu.

The success of BetiBachaoBetiPadhao gives a sense of satisfaction that there has been an improvement in the situation. But sometimes it hurts that in a country like India which is known for its great Scriptures, culture and the great personalities like Vivekananda, we are compelled to make repeated requests, make budget allocations and make people understand through such schemes to save the girl child. What is the reason for this deep rooted social evil?

I think, there cannot be a greater pain for any society than this. For several decades, we have chosen to abandon or sacrifice our daughters just because of this social evil and wrong mentality. You can imagine the sorry state of affairs whenever we hear of the number of girls as 800, 850 or 900 against 1000 boys. The society can work only with a balance between the men and women.

Several decades of killing of the girl child has resulted in a disbalance in the society. The wrongs of four-five generations have accumulated now. The previous losses will take time to recover. However, it's high time that we moved towards ensuring that the number of boys born should be equal to that of the girls born. Equal number of boys and girls will be brought up now. If we move ahead with the expression of 'equality of boys and girls', we will be able to correct the wrongs of the past four-five generations in the next two-three generations. However, there is one condition to it - we should not create a disbalance in the number of boys and girls that will be born now.

I am glad that the ten districts that will be honoured today have accomplished this task very well. These districts have succeeded in equalizing the number of births of the girls with those of boys. I congratulate the award-winning states, districts and the entire team for taking the responsibility of this sacred task.

And I would like to urge all other officials of the country, our government officials and the state governments to make it a mass movement. Unless every family joins it and the Mothers-in-law take the leadership, this work will take longer. But as soon as the Mother-in-Law takes the leadership and makes it clear just once that there should be a daughter in the house, no one in this world can ever do any injustice to that daughter. So, we have to create a social movement and a mass movement.

The Government of India accepted that challengeand started a programme in Haryana , where the situation was very worrisome, two years back. It was difficult to explain it in Haryana. My officers had suggested to me that the condition might deteriorate if they had gone there. I had said that I would start from the worst affected place. Today I congratulate Haryana. They have improved the situation so fast in two years. The increased in the number of daughters at birth creates a new faith and a new hope. And, in view of the success that has been achieved in these two years, today, on March 8, International Women's Day, the Government of India has now extended the scheme to all the districts from 160-161 districts of the country. This will improve the situation but we must also focus on further enhancing the condition. we are working in that direction.

We have to ask ourselves about the validity of this age-old perception that the daughters are sometimes considered as burden. Today's experiences and events tell us that daughters are not a burden but the pride of the whole family.

In India when we hear of achievements like satellite launch or the Mangalyan mission we realize thatbehind these achievements in space technology were three women scientists. This is the power of our daughters. We realize the power of our daughters when we see a woman fighter pilot from Jhunjhunu. The country feels proud whenever our daughters bag gold medals or for that matter any medal in Olympics.

Some people think that the son will be a support during their old-age. However, the situation is different now. I have seen such families where there are four sons with each having a Bungalow of their own and fancy cars but their parents are spending their old-age in old-age homes. On the other hand, I have also seen such families where there is a single daughter but she takes care of her parents, works hard, earns for her parents. Often she doesn't marry just to take care of her parents so that they don't suffer.

Therefore, we have to come out of this distorted mindset. This social movement is the responsibility of all of us. Some people may blame the government for its failure. That's fine. But its success depends on the success of the resolution of every family. So, unless we are considering the sons and the daughters as equals, the daughters will continued to be killed in mothers' laps.

There was a system prevalent in the 18th century in which the daughters were immersed in a large vessel full of milk but sometimes I feel that even in the 21st century, we are worse than the people of the 18th century. This is because in the 18th century, at least that girl child could take birth, was fortunate to see the face of her mother and breathe for some time on the earth. Later, she used to become the victim of the greatest social crime.

But today, the crime is even worse. She is killed inside the mother's womb itself. Neither the mother sees the daughter's face nor the daughter sees her mother's face. With the help of modern technology, the daughter is killed inside the mother's womb. I believe that there is no greater crime in the world than this. Unless we consider the daughters as our pride, we cannot eradicate this social evil.

Today, I got the opportunity to meet the families and the mothers where daughters were born. They were so happy! I asked them whether they knew that the sweets were distributed when the daughters were born? They said they are not aware of it but when their daughters were born they had personally distributed sweets in their entire locality and celebrated the occasion.

We have to change this situationand the government is working in that direction by extending this scheme to the entire country.

Today we are launching another scheme - Rashtriya Poshan Mission. Now whenever you want to criticize the PM or complaint about PM, if the word 'PM' comes to your mind, you should not think of Narendra Modi but the Poshan Mission. You will see the way it will spread in every house.

Sometimes the development of the body of a child - girl or a boy, stops. Sometimes the the baby born is under-weight. Lack of awareness plays a greater role in such cases. We need to get out of this problem. Once again I would like to reiterate that this is not the job the government alone. The things will change if it turns into a mass movement and the people are educated and taught.

This is not the first time that work is being done to fight against malnutrition. Every government had come up with some or the other scheme. However, it has been observed that most of the people think that only the right amount of calories and proper meals is enough to fight against malnutrition. But experiences suggest that the entire ecosystem has to be set right. If the water is of poor quality, then the required nutrition will never be proper.

Very few people are aware of the fact that child marriage is one of the reasons for malnutrition. Marriage and giving birth at an early age without the proper development of the body leads to poor nutrition and poor development of the body of that new born baby as well. So, we should follow the right thing at the right time at each stage of life; proper medication during illness, mother's milk immediately after the birth etc. However, there is a misconception here that mother's milk should not be provided immediately after the birth. This is the mistake we commit. If the baby is provided with mother's milk immediately after the birth, it gets the required nutrition for proper development of the body and doesn't face health issues later in life. This is the strength of mother's milk but we don't take it seriously.So, if we understand the greatness of the mother, worship her and protect her, the child in her lap will also be free from malnutrition.

Nutrition is just one aspect. Sometimes the government runs the vaccination programme but we don't avail the facilities provided by the health centres. We have a fixed budget, officers and people for it. Consequently, the people are affected by some or the other disease.

In the film we have seen that 30 to 40% of the children contract diseases because of the unhygienic practice of not washing hands before meals and die. Who will make it a habit and teach the mothers to wash their hands before feeding the child? Sometimes the child puts something in his mouth. Who will tell them that the child’s hands should also be washed.

This is for the bright future of our children. This is our collective responsibility to improve the lives of our children. We are thus, implementing this scheme on a mission mode by amalgamating all the scattered schemes like water issues, medicines and so on. We must have seen that after a certain age when the child goes to school, an inferiority complex develops in him. What is the reason? There could be five tall children and the others short. The shorter kids would desire the same height as the five tall kids. They will be obsessed with it. You all might have tried hanging on the branches of the tree for increasing your height. However, we never work on these things scientifically.

Today, there is a specific height prescribed for every age group. But our country is way behind in this aspect. We should strive towards making our children healthy, with the right weight and height holistically by the year 2022 that will mark 75 years of Independence so that we can proudly declare before the world that we have achieved this in the field of nutrition. We have to create a scenario where we can see our jolly kids everywhere.

We have allocated about Rs. 9000 crores for this scheme. There will be fixed standards, ASHA workers, volunteers at village level with access to technology. They will collect data on a regular basis. Any changes in it will draw immediate intervention from the higher authorities. The problems will be closely analysed and we will look for solutions. Sometimes even if the growth of a child is good for 8 months but suddenly he or she falls ill due to the rainy season, then the growth of the past eight months will be of no use. Hence, it is a challenging task but we have to fulfil the challenging task. I believe that we can fulfil our resolutions. The work under Indradhanush mission has been expedited and we are trying to achieve 90% vaccination by the end of the year. Under Pradhan MantriMatruVandanaYojana, the government is giving Rs.6000 to each pregnant woman and about 23 lakh women have got this benefit under Swachh Bharat Mission.

Similarly, mothers are compelled to inhale as much smoke by burning the firewood in their houses as the smoke of 400 cigarettes everyday. We have started providing free gas connections under Pradhan MantriUjjwalayojana to get rid of this problem. Today around three and a half crore families have been provided with free gas connections. We have to make our country healthy by carrying this journey forward in the coming days. We have to take these schemes that are launched today, forward. If our children are empowered, our country will automatically be empowered.

With this resolution, I urge you all to join this movement. I call upon my countrymen, this is an act of humanity, it’s for the future generations and for the future of India. Please join us.

And now join me in saying aloud -

Victory to Mother India -Victory to Mother India - Victory to Mother India

Thanks a lot!


(Release ID :177190)