Prime Minister Narendra Modi is known for successfully inspiring social media trends. And the latest one is the hashtag #SelfiWithDaughter.
Twitter turned into a battlefield yesterday. Yet again. To selfie, or not to selfie? And this was a particularly difficult one for our liberals: a seemingly great cause (women emancipation) but, hell, it had Narendra Modi – a man Indian liberals love to hate – endorsing it.
But, as Modi acknowledged in his Mann Ki Baat speech, the idea was not his, but that of a Sarpanch of a “small” Haryana village. The Indian Express reports, Selfie With Daughter is the brain child of Sunil Jaglan, Sarpanch of Bibipur, a “small but prosperous” village in Haryana.
Jaglan had organised a Beti Bachao selfie contest last week, where he invited men of the village to send selfies clicked with their daughters. The contest, it seems, was a resounding success with as many as 794 image entries from all over the country.
So what does Jaglan think? Does he really believe clicking selfies will help tackle something as socially-entrenched as female foetecide/infanticide?
“Yes, it definitely will. The idea is to make people aware – and that is a gradual process. The message is important – not how it is being delivered,” said Jaglan in a telephonic conversation with me. Jaglan, in fact, is quite amused when I tell him certain people think the gesture will have little impact beyond being a public relations (PR) exercise. “Do people really think some factory will come up with an instrument that will suddenly change people’s mindsets?”
But has it helped Jaglan’s own village?
“When I took over as Sarpanch in 2010, the village had one of the worst sex ratios in the country; now it is one of the best in the region at least. This year, 19 girls and 16 boys have been born in the village,” he tells me.
According to The Indian Express report, the sex ratio in the 0-6 age group in the village rose from 569:1,000 in 2012 to 1,117:1,000 in 2013.
What else does Jaglan do to educate people in the village?
“I often download gender empowerment movies and show it to the people of the village through a projector – that way they get to see how life is like in modern societies,” he says.
Jaglan’s efforts, however, move far beyond just clicking selfies and showing people movies. “I have been working towards making the village panchayat more representative – with more women members. Also, a considerable share of the panchayat’s funds go towards sensitising people to the evils of female foeticide/infanticide.”
The fact that the village boasts a road (“Lado Marg”), public spaces (“Mahila Chabutra” and “ Mahila Shakti Sthal” ) and a lake “Lado Sarovar” dedicated to girls is testimony to Jaglan’s efforts.
Where does he draw inspiration?
The 33-year-old Jaglan, who has a Bachelors degree in Computer Science and a Masters degree in Math, says his father is largely responsible for his worldview. “My father was a government school teacher – and he never discriminated against my sisters, who are all post-graduates now,” states Jaglan.
Did he face any resistance from people around?
“Yes, people oppose and object all the time. They are perhaps doing what they think is right – and I am doing what I think is right and I am going to keep doing it,” says Jaglan.
Jaglan tells me that that idea is to create such an atmosphere that high-quality educational institutions come up in the vicinity. “Education is the key – and parents are wary of sending their daughters away to far-off cities, so it’s crucial that good colleges and universities come up here.”
Did the Prime Minister send him a personal note of appreciation?
“No, he hasn’t, but I already have got my appreciation now that he has endorsed my idea,” says the evidently pleased Sarpanch. Jaglan is confident the current dispensation believes in his cause. “There is intent and that is what brings about change.”
To selfie, then. No?
This article has been republished from Newslaundry.com.
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