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Rashtriya Balika Diwas
Festivals in India are of a wide variety, ranging from religious to commemorating a popular figure and some that are marked to spread awareness. Rashtriya Balika Diwas or Girl Child’s Day is one such festival which is celebrated on the 24th January each year. A proposal that was recently approved by the cabinet, the Ministry of Women and Child Development will also be starting a campaign to create awareness and highlight the evils of female foeticide, female infanticide and discrimination. The main aim of this festival is to bring to the fore the importance of the girl child.
Though this concept is supposed to have been borrowed from the west, in India efforts are made to sensitise people about the importance of a girl child and why one must protect them. The objective of the day is to ensure that the girl child is taken care of and provided for so as to give her a better future by providing her education and facilities to ensure that she has a happy childhood. This day was initiated by the Ministry of Women and Child Development which was then undertaken by the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government in 2009. The date is also a reminder of the day when Mrs. Indira Gandhi was declared the first woman Prime Minister of India in 1966, which also set into motion the notion that the education of the girl child was as important as that of the male child. This day was established to celebrate the young girls of India specifically those in the age group of 11 to 18 years.
Many events and functions are organised all over the country on this day. The government organises functions along with NGO’s working with women and on women issues. Speeches are made by important dignitaries of the Ministry and other important people. State departments also organise functions in order to spread awareness about the day. Cultural activities are also organised and such events usually have songs and dances dedicated to the girl child. Also, girl students are honoured by institutions for excelling in their particular fields. Film screenings, competitions and theatrical performances are also quite common. Educational institutions also make the most of the day by telling their students and creating awareness that the girl child deserves equality and all the benefits that a male child does. The Rashtriya Balika Diwas is thus, one of the most important events in today’s day in India as it is a conflation of awareness and education and most importantly a day to honour the girl child.
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