While on the topic of the welfare of the poor, we are equally concerned about the problem of malnutrition of poor children in cities which leads to their improper physical development.
Especially during the constant heavy rains in monsoons, when epidemics break out, the children of the poor are the first to fall ill.
This is a heart-wrenching situation. Who will worry about the health of these children?
We will. Under the, “Garib Samriddhi Yojna”, we have planned a network of Aanganwadis (child-care centres) for poor children.
At these centres, children will be well taken care of so that they grow up healthy, with a strong foundation of good health.
We have a tradition of offering prasad to God. A rich man will spend thousands of rupees to offer rajbhog (rich food) in hopes of pleasing God.
A poor man might only be able to offer some peanuts or a flower, but everyone wishes to offer something to God.
However, I believe that every child in the Aanganwadi is a Bal-kanaiya, a manifestation of God.
So, instead of rajbhog, we have planned to offer balbhog.
Under this plan, children at Aanganwadis will be given nutritious chocolates and biscuits so that their bodies are well-equipped to fight diseases and be healthy.
When a child falls down a tube-well, there is media frenzy and people all over the country pray for his safety in front of their TV sets.
If the child is saved, the entire nation heaves a collective sigh of relief, but if perchance he perishes, no eye is free of tears.
So many poor mothers die in childbirth, which goes unnoticed.
Even newly-born infants do not survive for lack of proper medical facilities.
This is a pitiable situation which gives me great grief. The Gujarati word for delivery is ‘suvavad’, which literally translates into ‘good news’.
How ironic then, that this good news situation turns into bad news of the death of mother and child.
I am determined to save the lives of mothers in childbirth and avoid tragic deaths at young age.
We have floated a scheme called, “Chiranjivi Yojna,” under which women who live below the poverty line will be provided
money for transporting them to the hospital for routine check-ups and the actual delivery.
Also, since a woman cannot work during this time, she will be given ` 200 per day as maintenance.
Additionally, the entire financial burden of hospitalization and treatment would be borne by the government.
For the first time, a government has taken steps to save the lives of new-born babies and their mothers.
I want to see prosperity for the poor by 2010 through the “Garib, Samriddhi Yojna,” which will spend `
13000 crores for the welfare of poor.
In 2010, when Gujarat celebrates its golden jubilee, I wish to see happiness in the home of each poor person too.