| Sania Mirza walks the ramp as brand ambassador of a gold jewellery chain in Mumbai on Wednesday. (PTI)
Hyderabad, March 10: Sania Mirza's success may spell survival for girl children in Andhra Pradesh, which has offered Rs 1 lakh to families with just one daughter in a bid to balance the sex ratio.
The cash incentive will be given to the daughters when they reach 20 years, provided their parents have had only one child and undertaken birth control measures. The scheme will be effective from April 1.
Eighteen-year-old Sania, the first Indian woman to enter the third round of a Grand Slam and a Hyderabad native, will champion the cause. Appointed the 'state ambassador of the girl child', she will feature on billboards with the caption: 'Your daughter may be the next champion'.
'It is a shame that in our country we ascertain the sex of the baby before it enters the world,' chief minister Y.S. Rajasekhar Reddy said while announcing the incentive on Tuesday on International Women's Day.
He also promised stringent measures against the sex determination laboratories mushrooming in the state. 'These labs encourage female foeticide and/or illegal sale of girl children to unauthorised agencies,' he said.
The existing law against sex determination will be given more teeth to contain the menace of these clinics, Reddy said.
Five years ago, Andhra, where the sex ratio is 943 females to 1,000 males, was rocked by a child-adoption racket in which tribals from backward regions sold their infant daughters to illegal adoption agencies.
'Over 500 girl children acquired by such agencies were finally lodged in government baby centres,' said G.D. Aruna, director of the state's women and child welfare department.
India, with 927 females to 1,000 males as per the 2001 census, has one of the lowest sex ratios in the world, according to the UN population agency (UNFPA). This is down from 945-to-1,000 more than a decade ago.
The government also announced an annual educational grant of Rs 1,250 to cover tuition fee charged in government schools for girl students from Class IX to XII.
'This initiative is to ensure continuation of girls in schools and junior colleges,' health secretary C.B.S Venkata Ramana said.