India is a patriarchal society, where the males own the majority authority and power. However, the state of Punjab evidently acknowledges the contribution of women in the society. In order to provide a helping hand to the Scheduled caste girls or women, the Shiromani Akali Dal – BJP led state government has come up with various initiatives, which include the Shagun scheme. Notions of women empowerment thrive on initiatives like these.
The government of Punjab, initiated the Shagun scheme on April 1, 1997 with the view to provide economic stability and financial support to the underprivileged families, at the time of marriage of the females in the family. Women belonging to backward classes, Schedule Castes, economically weaker sections, Christians, and the case of remarriage of widows or divorcees of any casts who have attained the minimum age of 18 years on the occasion of their marriage, are provided with the financial aid of Rs. 15,000. However, the beneficiaries under the Shagun scheme should not have the annual income of the family exceeding Rs 32,790.
The status of women in Punjab, has been ameliorating ever since the Shagun scheme was initiated. The pro – active approach of the state government, is clearly evident by the fact that all the amount which is to be paid under this welfare scheme is credited to the accounts of the beneficiaries with the help of online management. The girls are supposed to apply 30 days prior to the commencement of their marriage, with the view to have an efficient, prompt and hassle free functioning of the Shagun scheme.
The Shiromani Akali Dal – BJP led state government, allocated an amount of Rs 98 crore for scheme, during the fiscal year of 2015 – 2016. The state government had already provided Rs 60.17crore to about 40,105 beneficiaries under Shagun Scheme, in the month of December, 2015. The state welfare minister, Mr. Gulzar Singh Ranike claimed that the Punjab government had even issued the instructions to disburse the amount of Rs 15,000 under the Shagun scheme directly into the bank accounts of beneficiaries.
Numbers sourced that the state government provided financial aid to about 82,267 beneficiaries, with the allocated budget of Rs 124.30 crore in the financial year of 2012 – 2013. Followed by 80,810 and 58,362 beneficiaries in the financial year of 2013 – 2014 and 2014 – 2015, respectively. The state government cleared about 18,798 cases of the Shagun scheme from March 2015 to June 2016, for which Rs 28.20 crore had been credited directly into the bank accounts of the beneficiaries.
The situation of underprivileged women is seen to be changing in the state. The potential government of Punjab has taken various steps like the Shagun scheme through which, the families can now bestow the same love for their daughters, as for their sons. This has come a long way, and shall definitely go longer towards the path of women empowerment and their position in the society.