Millennium Post

Mamata gets top UN award for Kanyashree

The Bengal government's Kanyashree Prakalpa on Friday was awarded the first prize in United Nations Public Service Award for Asia Pacific here.

Out of 552 initiatives from 62 different countries, Bengal government's initiative — a targeted conditional cash transfer scheme aimed at retaining girls in schools and other educational and skill development institutions and preventing early marriage — was adjudged the best.

CM Mamata Banerjee tweeted: "We are delighted on behalf of our countrymen and the people of Bengal to receive the first prize on @UN Public Service." She said receiving the first prize from the UN was a huge honour and recognition.

A visibly emotional Chief Minister, after receiving the award for her pet project Kanyashree, posted on Facebook: "We are proud of Kanyashree. It is indeed a historic achievement and a proud moment for the people of Bengal and India. My best wishes to all".

A trophy and a certificate were received by Banerjee. Earlier, she had also participated at a ministerial conversation at the same venue.

After coming to power in 2011, Mamata Banerjee introduced the project to look after girl child and named it 'Kanyashree'. The project stopped early marriage of girls and reduced the number of school drop-outs.

United Nations Public Service Award for the first place is for reaching the poorest and the most vulnerable through inclusive services and participation. "Kanyashree Prakalpa" is a targeted conditional cash transfer scheme aimed at retaining girls in schools and other educational and skill development institutions and preventing child marriage. The scheme has already enrolled more than four million adolescent girls. The government of Bengal has till date, transferred about $500 million directly to the beneficiaries' bank account. The scheme is being implemented through 16,000 institutes and schools.

Addressing the gathering, Banerjee said the government should work for the "poorest of the poor" and the primary purpose of her government is "unity among people." She explained how, through the administrative review meetings, the state government has involved all sections of government officials up to the Block level and the whole purpose to look after the interests of the beneficiaries has been taken care of.

The Chief Minister further added that because of Kanyashree, girls are being looked after from birth. "We have given cycles to girls that help them to go to schools. We have also given scholarships to them so that they can pursue higher education."

The UN recognition of 'Kanyashree' has silenced the Opposition who had criticised Banerjee for the project. During the campaign before the 2016 Assembly elections, the Opposition had said that it had failed to bring any good to the girls as claimed by Banerjee.

Educationist Abhiroop Sarkar said the beauty of Mamata Banerjee is that because of her constant monitoring through the administrative meetings there is no financial leakage and the beneficiaries are getting the actual amount as promised by the state government. "She has assigned the schools to identity the beneficiaries and so there is no corruption in selecting the needy." She said the project can serve as a model for the entire nation.

Banerjee is often found saying "Bengal will go to the top and become the world's best" and today, at the world platform, her favourite project 'Kanyashree' has become 'Kanyashree of the World".
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