Commit to Hike Education Incentive for Tribal Girls in Maharashtra in Election Manifesto

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There cannot be a more cruel joke than this: the government gives tribal girls in Maharashtra a daily incentive to attend school. That incentive is Re. 1! One rupee doesn’t even buy a pencil anymore.

This amount called a “daily school allowance” - meant to promote school attendance in remote areas - has not been revised in the last 25 years.

No wonder the school drop-out numbers among tribal girls remains high. And India’s most prosperous state Maharashtra has the 6th highest number of out-of-school girls at 56,936.

I felt so upset reading a news article about this that I decided to do something about it. I’ve started this petition to draw the attention of all politicians who often talk about boosting female literacy and to make them increase this amount so that it serves its true purpose. This will also breathe life into the "padhao" (educate) aspect of the "Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao" campaign.

Another news report I came across said that a majority of tribal girls drop out after Class 4 as their villages don’t have higher classes. Their families are too poor to afford to send them by public transport. These girls soon become child brides. They are robbed of their childhood. And the cycle repeats for generations.

This is where the monetary allowance can be a lifesaver. But sadly it hasn’t been revised in a quarter of a century by the Education Department of the state to keep up with the times.

Since it was first introduced in 1993, the prices of commodities have gone up. School books, pencils, uniforms all cost much, much more. 

The MLAs in Maharashtra passed a Bill to increase their own salaries from Rs. 75,000 per month to Rs. 1.5 lakhs in August 2016. Pensions have been hiked 500%. But no one has bothered to think about these tribal girls.

No one is speaking for them. Join me and raise your voice for these voiceless girls. Some of them may grow up to become Meera Borwankar, Maharashtra’s first woman IPS officer, or Pratibha Patil, our first woman President.

Sign my petition asking the top leaders - both men and women - from the BJP, Congress, Shiv Sena and NCP to commit to increasing the education incentive for these well-deserving tribal girls - whoever is voted to power this summer.