The Conditional Cash Transfers (CCTs) are a marked departure from the traditional approaches in social welfare measures. By providing money to poor families under certain verifiable conditions, CCTs seek to address short-term income support and promote long-term accumulation of human capital. CCTs can be an effective way of targeting limited resources to the poor and disadvantaged sections which will result in better education and health care for their children. Indian families are known for discrimination against girls at every stage of their life- feticide, infanticide, little or no access to education, lack of health care and nutrition, child marriage, early motherhood, etc. In order to reverse the distorted sex ratio and to improve the survival and welfare of girls, governments have launched many financial incentive schemes (Ladli-Lakshmi programs). By providing CCTs, the families were encouraged to ensure certain minimum requirements for their daughters such as registration of births, childhood immunization, enrollment and retention in school, and delaying age at marriage beyond 18 years. These schemes have been aimed at improving the value of the girl child with the premise that financial incentives would trigger behavioral changes among parents and community. This study examines the performance and impact of a central government sponsored pilot scheme-Dhanlakshmi. A household survey was undertaken in the program blocks covering both the beneficiary and non-beneficiary households. Discussions were also carried out with program managers, implementing officials, local leaders, and NGOs. Available evidence indicates that incentives go a long way in improving the condition of girls. To some extent, they may also contribute to improving the position of girls vis-a-vis boys, and it is this potential which needs to be harnessed to the maximum.
Dr. T.V. Sekher is a Fulbright Fellow with the South Asia Program. He is a professor in the Department of Population Policies and Programs at the International Institute for Population Sciences (IIPS), Mumbai. He holds a PhD from the Institute for Social and Economic Change (ISEC), Bangalore. Trained in Demography and Sociology, his areas of research interests are social demography, gender issues, population aging, and public health. Dr. Sekher was a visiting fellow at the Wellcome Trust Centre at UCL, London (2003); la Maison des Sciences de l’Homme, Paris (2004); Lund University, Sweden (2005); and at Oxford Brooks University, UK (2009). He was Consultant to UNFPA (2010) and to UNICEF (2015), to review financial incentives schemes for children in India.
Dr. Sekher is one of the lead researchers of the ongoing Longitudinal Aging Study in India (LASI), a joint venture of IIPS, Harvard School of Public Health and University of Southern California, and also the core team member of the "Study on Global Ageing and Adult Health (SAGE-India)", a research study sponsored by the World Health Organization(WHO). Dr. Sekher was one of the National Coordinators of the District Level Household and Facility Survey (DLHS-3&4) for the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Govt. of India. He has authored and edited books, and has many research articles in national and international journals.
Dr. Thozhukkatt Vadakkeveettil Sekher
Cornell University (South Asia Program Fulbright Scholar)
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