Amid the growing trend of discrimination against women, unique initiatives to include deities in desisting people from indulging in such practices have been started in Mandi district of Himachal Pradesh.

The step has been taken by the administration to take all stakeholders on board to end discrimination against the fairer sex and improve upon the declining child sex ratio in the district.

The sex ratio in Mandi district stood at 916 while the child sex ratio is being recorded at 903.

The Mandi district administration on Wednesday organized a meeting with members representative of various local deities of Mandi district to garner support for ‘Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao’ campaign and female feticide.

The meeting was a success as the Sarv Devta Samiti (the caretakers or kardar of local deities) agreed to spread awareness on female feticide and ‘Save Girl Child’ campaign.

Shivpal Sharma, the president of Samiti, submitted signed pledge to the district administration, and agreed to promote campaign to end gender discrimination and dowry system too.

“Now, the kardars of local deities would spread message of ‘Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao’ at temples and other religious events,” Sharma said, adding the committee would also pass resolution on the issue soon.

Sharma said female feticide is considered a sin in our culture (dev sanskriti) and they are considered worship-worthy in our Vedic culture.

He said the local deities would participate in government’s campaign to end gender discrimination and they too would spread awareness on the issue in their respective areas.

“In Mandi district, local deities hold major sway on local population and it becomes imperative on our part to involve them in this campaign too,” Rugved Thakur, Deputy Commissioner Mandi told The Statesman.

Besides, the basis of gender discrimination is religion as locals in remote areas of the district still prefer boys over girls and there is the need to curb the trend, he added.

The decline in trend can also be attributed to dowry system and the deities can help the administration in maintaining balance in sex ratio, Thakur added.

He added the rural areas were earlier free from the menace of female feticide but the trend is now moving towards these areas from urban areas.

It is worthwhile to mention here that Mandi district which is also considered as the cultural capital of Himachal, has over 200 local deities and their diktats are followed in letter and spirit by all.

In fact in some areas, small disputes and social issues are resolved by the local deities and no one goes against the orders of the deity, who generally speaks through local deities, termed Kardars.