Like his other schemes, Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan’s ‘saving the girl child’ initiative also turned into a scam. It was his first major project.
Soon after taking over the reins of the government in 2005, he launched his ‘Ladli Laxmi Yojana’ with the objective of improving sex ratio in Madhya Pradesh. He claims his scheme is being followed by some other States also. He managed to get a word of praise even from Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The reality is that the sex ratio in the State was improving before he became the chief minister but it started declining during his period.
According to the Census of India report for the decade 2001-2011, there were 919 females (for 1000 males) in the State in 2001. The number of females went up to 930 in 2011. But the number of females in the 0-6 age group went down from 932 in 2001 to 912 in 2011. This is a drastic decline in the sex ratio and it corresponds with Chouhan’s own regime.
The figures would suggest that there was a steady improvement in the sex ratio in the earlier part of the decade. After Chouhan took over as chief minister on November 29, 2005, it started going down steeply. Chouhan’s own Vidisha district was among the worst scorers. The number of girls in the 0-6 years age group there declined from 943 in 2001 to 922 in 2011. While out of a total of (then) 50 districts, only three had shown a declining trend if the entire decade was taken into account, as many as 49 districts registered decline in the 0-6 age group; only Bhind district had recorded an increase by 3 points (from 832 to 835).
She disappeared from her home on the day I left the city in connection with a project that I was involved with. Her distraught mother ran into a Nepali friend of mine called Madhwari who told her that he had seen both of us going to the railway station together. I was done. Almost.
Let’s call her Miss X. She and her mother were tenants in the house of an acquaintance of mine. It was in the early 1960s. I was a university student then. Occasionally I used to visit my acquaintance. There I got acquainted with Miss X and her mother.
Miss X was a class eighth student. During the exam season, her mother requested me to help her daughter with her school work. Soon I found that Miss X was interested in everything except studies. She was a swimming champion in her school and had won awards in cycling, dancing, acting and various other extracurricular activities. Her obsession was the film world. I tried for a month or so to create in her mind some interest in studies but I can’t say I succeeded.
Then came the summer vacation and my leaving the city and her disappearance on the same day. After getting her ‘enlightenment’ from my Nepali friend, the mother was going to the police station to get my name included in the FIR but she was dissuaded by my acquaintance with some difficulty.
After I returned to the city a week later, I found that every friend and acquaintance of mine firmly believed that Miss X was with me and that I was hiding her somewhere. A Professor in my university, an Arya Samaji, summoned me to his house and told me in all serenity that he had talked to the manager of the local Arya Samaj Mandir and that we should get quietly married to avoid legal complications as the girl was a minor.
I had a sigh of relief only three days later when the local newspapers reported that the police had recovered Miss X and her abductor from a suburban house.
After some time, Miss X got a good break in a regional film which was shooting in the area. Her next jump was to Bombay (now known as Mumbai) where she got the chance to work with big names like Dev Anand, Amitabh Bachan Dharmendra and Jeetendra. She also featured in a popular TV serial produced by Ramanand Sagar. Meanwhile, she married a film personality.
Now I learn she is settled abroad with her children (her husband is no more) and running a dancing academy.
When I had returned to the city from my project assignment and came to know of the source of the mischief, I confronted Madhwari and asked him why he had done so. With a roguish grin on his face, he replied quietly: ‘Don’t you see how much fun we are having’. The scoundrel later got a teaching job in the Tribhuvan University in Kathmandu.
Soon after becoming chief minister of Madhya Pradesh for the first time, Shivraj Singh Chouhan had given a clear hint to the people of the State that he had come not to alleviate their sufferings but to gobble up their resources and cause them untold miseries. He had, of course, used mythological symbolism to convey his intentions. He should not be blamed if the people failed to understand what he was hinting at.
He had organised a two-day conclave of secretaries and Collectors in Bhopal ostensibly to learn from them the mantra of development and given it the name of Manthan. He had made it amply clear that he meant by Manthan the mythological Samudra-Manthan when he said that the emerging nectar (Amrit) would go to the public and the poison he would take himself.
The legend of the Samudra-Manthan is that the gods, having been thoroughly defeated and humiliated by the demons, repaired to Lord Vishnu to seek from him renewed vigour and the gift of immortality. Vishnu directed them to collect all plants and herbs of diverse kinds from every quarter and drop them into the ocean; then churn the ocean (Samudra-Manthan) by using Mandara Mountain as the churning stick and Vasuki serpent as the rope.
The Samudra Manthan yielded 14 items including a celestial cow, a white elephant, the goddess of wine, Apsaras (the nymphs), in addition, of course, to terrific poison and a pitcher of nectar which Dhanwantari (the gods’ physician) himself carried in his hands. Lord Vishnu had manoeuvred in such a manner that the nectar or Amrit had been distributed to the gods or Devtas while poison had gone to the lot of the Asuras or demons. By claiming that he would partake of the poison, Chouhan had clearly presented himself as the demon, intent upon destruction of an orderly life all around. He knew what he was saying because he always claims his scholarly knowledge of Hindu mythology.
To help him in his task of swallowing up resources of the State and making the life of the people miserable, he had chosen two worthy lieutenants, corruption-incarnate Prakash Prabhakar Naolekar as the Lokayukta and symbol of corruption Rakesh Sahni as the chief secretary. Outside the official circle, he had two trusted helpers in the discharge of his mission of looting the people, Dilip Suryavanshi and Sudhir Sharma, both controlling between the two of them the builder and mining mafias.