By: Dr. Mohammad Aleem, Editor-ICN Group
The Piplantri villagers plant 111 trees every time when a girl is born and the community ensures these trees survive, attaining fruition as the girls grow up.
Humans are one of the best creations of God. Men and women make a beautiful canvas on the face of the planet earth.
NEW DELHI: Whenever a new life comes into being, it is always a cause of joy and celebration. But many among them are not so lucky to be hailed as a greatest and most precious gift bestowed by the almighty. They are doomed to taste the bitterness and ignominy of death, even in the delicate womb of their mothers, much before coming into a full bloomed life.
Reasons are many. In our society, where the tradition of hailing the male child as the great gift of God is still prevalent, millions of female children suffer sadly the death and annihilation at the hand of their own parents.
However, wherever there is darkness, a ray of hope also illumines.
Piplantri, a village perched in the district of Rajsamand, Rajasthan, has become a source divine light for millions of people. It has not only carved its own dazzling path of glory and success, but for thousands of others also.
This village celebrates the birth of a girl child every time as no any other celebration holds so much importance and love in the hearts of its people.
It was the time when the birth of a girl child was considered a bane for many people here. They would not hesitate in putting them to death pitilessly. But, now the same village, not only rejoices the birth of their daughters, but makes them an icon of love, success and enlightenment for millions of others.
How could it be transformed and changed, is a unique thing to watch and reckon!
The male and female child sex ratio in India has always been considered as the most alarming situation. It is less than any other Southeast Asian countries. There has been a rapid decline in the child sex ratio in the country during the last two decades due to the increasing practice of sex-selective abortion and female feticide. Since early 1980s, the use of technology to determine the sex of the fetus and easy access to it has contributed to the rapid decline in the child sex ratio to the frightening level.
Every year, around 5, 00,000 girl children get killed in India due to savage practice of sex determination tests.
In Rajasthan, the situation is also not good. According to one census, about 6 to 6.5 lakh feticides have been done in the past five years in the state with the connivance of local doctors and health workers.
According to the unofficial estimates, nearly 2500 cases of female feticide take place in the state of Rajasthan every day.
Piplantri, just the opposite of the other parts of the state, has been quietly practicing its own, homegrown brand of Eco-feminism and achieved spectacular results so far.
This wonderful eco-conscious tradition ensures that an increase in human population will never come at a cost to the very fragile environment. It is literally helping to ensure a greener future with each new generation which they add to their flock.
For the last several years, Piplantri village panchayat has been saving the precious lives of the girl children and increasing the green cover at the same time in and around of its surrounds with utmost zeal and compassion.
Here, villagers have adopted an exemplary method of showing their respect and dignity towards their girl children. The villagers plant 111 trees every time when a girl is born and the community ensures these trees survive, attaining fruition as the girls grow up.
Over the last six years, people here have managed to plant around a quarter of a million trees on the village’s grazing grounds and barren hilly lands which had been sadly destroyed by rampant marble mining industry. These trees include neem, sheesham, mango, Amla among many others of innumerable value.
On an average, 60 girls are being born every year here. The village’s former sarpanch, Shyam Sundar Paliwal, who is instrumental in starting this initiative in the memory of his departed daughter, Kiran, who died a few years ago. His motto was to save every girl child and give them not only freedom to live, but enjoy their life also. He launched a unique scheme named, Kiran Nidhi Yojna and asked his people to join it and make it a success.
He found that in almost about half of the cases, parents were reluctant to accept the girl children as their progeny.
Such families were identified by a village committee comprising the village school’s principal along with panchayat and Anganwadi members.
They conceived a visionary idea which appealed to all, irrespective of the castes and sects.
It has always been seen that the economic fear along with other social taboos are behind the gruesome killing of female children not only in their mother’s womb, but while living with their parents also. Even, after marriage, dowry consumes thousands of such innocent lives every year.
To ameliorate this problem successfully, it was imperative to put some economic measures along with educating the people about the importance of girl child in day-to-day lives of people.
They thought of creating a special fund of every girl child, which was going to be born in the village. They collect Rupees 21,000 from the villagers and Rs.10,000 from the girl’s father. And with the sum total of Rs. 31,000, they deposit the money for the period of 20 years as the fixed deposit money. The sole purpose of doing that is to ensure the availability of enough funds for the girl when she is grown up not only for her educational purposes, but for her marriage also.
They ask the beneficiary parents to sign an affidavit promising that they would not marry their daughters before the completion of the legal age of marriage. They also take vows to send their daughters to school regularly and take care of the trees which were planted in their names as a sacred entity.
Planting a new tree is always considered a sacred deed to be done here. People not only plant trees to celebrate the coming of their girl children, but they also plant trees whenever a family member dies. In that case, they plant 11 trees in the name of that departed soul.
They even celebrate many festivals and rituals connected with the sweet memories of the life of plants in their lives.
Girls specially celebrate Rakhi in their own unique way and style. They tie the rakhi thread to the trees as the protector of their lives like their own real brothers.
Women and nature have always been connected since ages. Piplantri is living example of that fine and exotic combination. This self sustained model village of Rajasthan has truly the power to inspire millions.
Let’s hope that this unique tradition of protecting and loving the environment along with their girl child will go forward and encourage scores of other people to adopt their best way of living and thinking in future also.