Dr Ganesh Rakh has delivered 436 baby girls free of charge. The son of a coolie and housemaid, he wanted to be a wrestler as a child, but his mother encouraged him to study hard and get a proper job.
The doctor wants to change the mindset of a 'boy-obsessed' society. A Ganesh Nadar/Rediff.com spoke to the doctor with a heart.
When I was a child I wanted to become a wrestler. My father was a coolie and my mother used to work as a housemaid washing people's vessels in their home.
My mother said that if I became a wrestler I would eat up all the food in the house and there would be no food left for others. She also said that I would end up as a coolie like my father. Instead I should study and get a proper job.
I studied and became a doctor.
I have been a doctor for the past 15 years. In the early days I used to treat patients in their homes in the day and work in a private hospital in the night. Even when I was in college, I used to work the night shift in hospitals.
In 2007, I started the Medicare hospital. For the last four years we have not charged a fee when a girl child is born in this hospital. We have delivered 436 girl children through this scheme.
When a new-born girl child needs intensive care, we provide that too without charge.
Parents are obsessed with boys. They come to me and say they want a boy. I tell them 'God decides.' They don't realise that doctors cannot do anything about the sex of the baby. They go to babas (godmen).
Pregnant mothers are so tense because relatives say give us a baby boy. In the delivery room if it is a boy they forget all the pain. If it's a girl they start crying about the pain. Relatives celebrate when it is a boy; they ignore the mother if it is a girl.
When its time to pay the hospital bill, they will happily pay if it is a boy but grumble if it's a girl. So I decided to celebrate the girl child and not charge for the delivery.
When a girl child is born we distribute cakes and sweets to all the patients in the hospital.
What is surprising is even when it is the first child, they want a boy. Even literate and rich people want a boy first. They feel that if they have a boy first they don't have to worry about later children.
A few patients who deliver girls insist on paying. We tell them to give that money to other girl children born in our hospital who need the money.
A few twins have been born in our hospital. When both are girls we don't charge anything. If one baby is a boy, we charge 50%.
We charges are Rs 10,000 for a normal delivery and Rs 25,000 for a Caesarean section.
When a girl child is born, we make the mother cut a cake. We distribute the cake and sweets to all the patients and relatives in the hospital. We also give bouquets to the mother and close relatives. We spend about Rs 2,000 per child on this.
This is a 50 bed hospital. There are 35 people working here, which includes doctors and support staff. I personally work very hard. We don't have too much money to pay the extra staff. For the last six months, I have been doing night duty here.
I don't know whether it is because of the free for girl child scheme or otherwise, but lots of deliveries are happening in our hospital. Sometimes 5 children are born here in one day.
When a patient asks us what baby she will deliver, we always say it will be a girl.
I know the national sex ratio is 914 females to 1,000 males. Only if everyone starts working like me can we make a difference to this. I cannot alone make a difference.
Everyone should celebrate a girl child. Celebrate your own girl child and automatically you will respect all girls. Crime against girls will decline. Crime starts in the mind.
Several panchayat leaders call me to speak in their villages. I go there as part of our campaign to 'Save the girl child.'
I have met many doctors and told them not to charge for the delivery of a girl child, at least one a month. I encourage them and so far 6,000 doctors have supported me.
If every doctor in the country delivers one girl child free, lakhs of baby girls will be benefited.
A UN report in 2012 says that a girl child up to 5 years is 75% more likely to die than a boy in India. I have experienced this first hand. We have a neo-natal intensive care unit for babies.
For boys the parents will tell us to save the child till the last minute. When it is a girl they prefer to take the child home after sometime. They don't try their best.
I have never contacted the government, any institution or individual for donations. For government funds you have to prepare lots of documents, so I have never applied.
I am not an accountant, I am a doctor. I am not an expert in collecting funds. If it comes good, if not we will continue with the work we are doing now. We will be able to do more work if funds come, if not we will do what we are doing now.
I work for almost 17 hours a day. I see 50 to 100 patients in the out patients department every day. I have to earn enough to support my girl child campaign. All my staff work very hard. I also work the night shift so that I don't have to pay another doctor salary.
I live with my parents, my two brothers and their wives. I have a nine year old girl.
When I want to relax I play with my daughter. I teach her wrestling too. Spending time with my family is the only way I like to relax. I take my family with me when I go out for the 'Save the girl child' campaign.
I don't take a weekly holiday. The last time I took a vacation was four years ago. I went to Kerala for a week with my family.
I have seen that educated people are the same when it comes to wanting a male child. Literacy makes no difference. I have observed that in tribal areas the sex ratio is better. The mindset has to change.
For things to change, society must learn to celebrate the girl child. They must realise that a girl child is as good as a boy child. They must not differentiate.
The government is running many campaigns to save the girl child, but its focus is on government hospitals. Female foeticide happens in private hospitals. Private hospitals must be encouraged to join the save the girl child campaign.
Only 5% pregnant mothers go to government hospitals. 95% go to private hospitals. The focus should be on private hospitals and private doctors.
6,000 doctors have promised me that they will deliver one baby girl free. Some have promised to deliver 5 baby girls free. Whether they are going to do it once a month or once a year, I don't know. But every little bit helps. What is important is that these doctors will never support female foeticide.