Biker Betis of India


When Narendra Modi launched the much talked about Beti Bachao Beti Padhao initiative under the aegis of the Central government, he had given a clarion call for ending discrimination against girl child. He made the emotional appeal while launching twin programmes of “Beti bachao, beti padhao” and “Sukanya Samriddhi account” to encourage birth and education of girls. The main reason for this was  the abysmally low child sex ratio of 918 girls for 1000 boys.

Modi had then called female foeticide as a “mental illness,” adding if this does not end it could cause a “terrible crisis” because of a lack of the fairer sex in the country.

To ensure people start working towards the cause, the government has announced a reward of Rs 1 crore for the “innovative” village which attains a balanced sex ratio. It seems a group of four bikers all women have taken things to their stride and are working tirelessly for achieving success.

Four bikers recently completed a 10,000 kilometre journey across 10 nations in 39 days to promote Beti Pachao Beti Padhao. They even met the PM to speak about their unique move to give a boost to the campaign.

The journey  was aimed at propagating Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao campaign in Nepal, India, Bhutan, Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, Malaysia and Singapore.

The bikers Dr Sarika Mehta, Yugma Desai, Durriya Tapia and Khyati Desai began their journey from Kathmandu on June 6, 2016. While moving across these nations, they spoke in detail to people about issues including female foeticide, girl child education, gender inequality and welfare and supportive measures for women empowerment.

The journey was tough because they had to cover different kinds of terrain on bike.

Dr Sarika Mehta, Founder of Biking Queens and leader of the 10 Nation Riding Team speaking to journalists has said that it has been especially tough to cross borders, but blessings from one and all worked.

Durriya Tapia, a 36-year-old mother tells the media in her home of Surat, India, people are often inspired when they see her biking, curiously asking the queens about their passions for riding.

Khyati Desai, a 31-year-old working in human resources at an engineering company, is riding on the campaign for her five year old daughter.  She wants her daughter to have a bright future.

Yugma Desai, the youngest of the group at 27 years old, says they have been travelling for more than 10 hours every day on this trip.

With 500 people waving the checkered flags for 10 minutes continuously during the flag off ceremony the Biking Queens team has bagged a Guinness World Record of Most People Waving Checkered Flags. They also made the record for First Female Bikers to cover 10 Countries, certified by the Asia Book of Records and India Book of Records. Those in the team say that despite the odds they have been able to make it to the finish.

The Biking Queens was formed by Dr Sarika Mehta in 2015. The group undertakes and organizes various long and short distance bike rides for various social causes such as Save Girl Child, Road Safety, Say No To Drugs, etc.

This trip is being seen as a first step. The Biking Queens plan to come back to the villages they crossed to spend more time talking and learning about the local villages.

In India the Beti Bachao Beti Padhao campaign has been a pet intiative of the Narendra Modi led government.

The scheme had been initiated with an initial corpus of ₹100 crore (US$15 million).

Census data shows child sex Ratio (0–6 years) in India was 927 girls per 1,000 boys in 2001, which dropped drastically to 918 girls for every 1,000 boys in 2011.

Prime Minister Modi launched the programme on 22 January 2015 from Panipat, Haryana.

The hashtag #SelfieWithDaughter was promoted on social media in June 2015, which started when the sarpanch of the village Bibipur in Haryana took a selfie with his daughter and posted on Facebook.

Sex-selective abortion or female foeticide has led to a sharp drop in the ratio of girls born in contrast to boy infants in some states in India.

While the Biking Queens have done their bit for the girl child of the nation, every Indian will have to do his or her bit to ensure the Beti Bachao Beti Padhao campaign is a success. A government alone by running a campaign cannot bring about change.


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