The Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi, today made an emotional appeal to the people of India, saying he "comes as a bhikshuk to beg for the lives of daughters" as he addressed a large gathering consisting predominantly of women at Panipat in Haryana, on the occasion of the launch of the National Programme "Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao." Stating that we have no right to call ourselves 21st century citizens as long as we have an 18th century mindset, the Prime Minister called for an end to the discrimination between sons and daughters, saying this was the key to ending female foeticide.
The Prime Minister said each one of us has a collective responsibility towards this end, otherwise we would not only be harming the current generation, but also inviting a "terrible crisis" for the future generations.
In a hard-hitting message to doctors who contributed to female foeticide, the Prime Minister reminded them that their medical education had been for the purpose of saving lives, and not killing daughters.
He said though this programme has been organized in Panipat in Haryana, the message is relevant across the country. If daughters are not born, how will you get daughters-in-law, the Prime Minister asked? He said there were people who wanted educated daughters-in-law, but were reluctant to educate their own daughters, and called for an end to this hypocrisy.
The Prime Minister quoted the eminent Urdu scholar from Panipat, Altaf Hussain Haali "O Sisters, mothers, daughters - you are the ornaments of the world, you are the life of nations, the dignity of civilizations." He also quoted from other ancient scriptures to highlight the importance given to the girl child.
The Prime Minister recalled the astronaut Kalpana Chawla, who was originally from Haryana, as an example of how girls could excel and make a name for themselves. He said girls were today doing well in sports, in education and health sectors, and had a very significant contribution, even in agriculture.
The Prime Minister thanked noted actress Madhuri Dixit, who participated in this programme, despite her mother being seriously unwell. He said this demonstrated her commitment to the cause, and similar commitment would be required to the gender imbalance created in our society.
The Prime Minister recalled the example of Jayapur village in Varanasi. On his advice, this village now holds an Anandotsav (celebration) on the birth of each girl child, and five trees are planted on each such occasion. He said people across the country could follow this example.
The Prime Minister launched the "Sukanya Samriddhi Account" for the benefit of the girl child. He released a stamp on the theme "Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao," and administered the "Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao" pledge.
The Governor of Haryana Prof. Kaptan Singh Solanki, the Chief Minister of Haryana, Shri Manohar Lal, Union Ministers Smt Maneka Gandhi, Shri Ravi Shankar Prasad, Smt Smriti Irani, were present on the occasion.