A police officer from Rajasthan has alleged that the central government "stole" from her the phrase for its national campaign to save and educate the girl child in India. Chetna Bhati, the chief of the women's police station in Udaipur, has claimed that the slogan 'Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao' was first conceived by her in 1999 for a series of poems she wrote.
"I do not need money or publicity," she told The Times of India. "I just want to be acknowledged for an idea that has become so popular."
Bhati has been filing Right To Information (RTI) requests to the Prime Minister's Office to find out how it decided on the phrase. The questions, forwarded to the departments for women and child development and school education and literacy, could not be answered by the government officials, Bhati said.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi listening to Madhuri Dixit's speech at launch of Beti Bachao Beti Padhao programme on 22 January, 2015 in Panipat, India.
The Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao Yojana is one of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's pet projects. It was one of the first campaigns announced by the Modi government shortly after it came to power in May 2014. By October that year, Modi announced the campaign to address the skewed sex ratio, with an initial corpus of ₹100 crore (US$15 million). It identified 100 "gender critical districts" where the child sex ratio showed an alarming decline. Several celebrities have come forward to endorse and support the project, since its inception.
Bhati, who has postgraduate degrees in History and English, was a school teacher before she decided to join the police force two decades ago, according to the TOI report. She claimed that in 2002, she had sent some posters she had made on the saving the girl child in India to then Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot, but never got a response. Later, in 2005, she publicly recited her poems on 'Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao'.
Bhati told TOI that she hopes PM Modi would acknowledge her original idea, as in his public speeches he refers to small instances from daily life that influences him.