Andhra Pradesh Assembly on Wednesday night passed a law which provides, among other benefits, financial assistance of Rs 2,500 to a family on birth of a girl child.
The Andhra Pradesh Bangaru Talli Girl Child Promotion and Empowerment Bill, 2013 aimed at "restoring the gender balance and channelling the capabilities of women for nation building."
The Opposition benches remained empty in the House following the suspension of TRS and YSR Congress members and walkout staged by TDP, BJP, CPI and CPM MLAs.
Chief Minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy, for whom the legislation became a prestige issue after several Ministers opposed it, had the last laugh with the House approving the Bill "unanimously".
More than a dozen women Ministers and MLAs belonging to the Congress spoke on the Bill and showered praise on Kiran for bringing in a "path-breaking" legislation.
Women Development and Child Welfare Minister V Sunita Laxma Reddy, who introduced the Bill, said an amount of Rs 2,500 would be given to a family upon birth of a girl child.
Each such family would get a total of Rs 55,000 till the girl's 21st birthday and upon completion of intermediate (Plus-2) or graduation, an additional Rs 50,000 or Rs one lakh respectively would be given as incentive.
This would be in addition to the benefits such families were given under different schemes, she added.
"Child sex ratio in AP declined from 975 (1991) to 961 (2001) and further to 943 (2011), signalling a grave danger for the demographic composition. This dangerous decline has to reversed for the sustainable growth of the society."
The Minister said the Bill was aimed at "restoring the gender balance and channelling the capabilities of women for nation building".
"The Bangaru Talli scheme seeks to check the depleting sex ratio and increase the education levels among girls. This will also help achieve the Millennium Development Goals as the Government is resolved to prevent gender discrimination by empowering and protecting girl children and catalyzing their all-round growth," Sunita elaborated.
The new law will come into force with retrospective effect from May 1, 2013.