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Sand art appeal to save girl child

- Sculptor Pramod Pattnaik’s creation turns spotlight on female foeticide
Pramod Pattnaik’s sand sculpture spreads awareness against female foeticide on Bali yatra grounds in
Cuttack. Picture by Badrika Nath Das

Cuttack/Bhubaneswar, Dec. 3: A sand sculpture by an artist from Puri with a message to save the girl child and fight female foeticide has become a crowd-puller on the Bali yatra grounds in the millennium city.

Artist Pramod Pattnaik said: “Foeticide, of late, has become a major concern. In many parts of the nation, the sex ratio (number of girls per 1,000 boys) has come down drastically. In Odisha, the situation has become alarming. Through sand art we hope to bring about a change in the people’s mindset.”

Monalisha Dani, a young mother from Cuttack, said Bali yatra was a perfect occasion for spreading such awareness and people should know about the problems the society was likely to face with the decline in the sex ratio.

A decline in the sex ratio from 953 in 2001 to 934 in 2011 has alarmed the state government and various other stakeholders pitching in to end the social menace and make the society care for the girl child.

With the Annual Health Survey 2010-11 showing districts such as Nayagarh, Dhenkanal, Angul and Ganjam having a sex ratio of less than 900, the authorities are now categorically asking the district collectors to be more firm and implement the Pre-conception and Pre-natal Diagnostic Techniques Act, 1994.

Noted Cuttack-based gynaecologist and poet Sarojini Sarangi was happy to know about the sand art that she dedicated her poem Atmaja, written on the theme to save the girl child, to the artist. A poster of the poem is now on display near the sand art, making a perfect jugalbandi.

“I have written the poem on the social discrimination against the girl child. Even now, it is painful to hear families deserting their newborn girl child near railway track, hospitals and in dustbins. The sand sculpture at Bali yatra will definitely help spread the social cause,” she said.

Quoting a government document, Sarojini said not only the coastal and central districts of the state are into sex determination and sex-selective elimination business, but also that tribal districts such as Sundargarh, Kalahandi, Rayagada and Koraput have registered an alarming decline of child ratio ranging from 37 points in Sundargarh to 23 points in Koraput district.

Her poem Atmaja written during 1997-98 was converted into a documentary film and was released in 13 Indian languages and screened at 60,000 locations across the country to educate people on female foeticide. The documentary also received an award at the International Film Festival in New York.

In 2002, Atmaja was selected as an entry from Odisha and Sarojini went to recite it at the All-India Poets’ Conference in Jaipur on behalf of All-India Radio, Cuttack.