Lavjibhai Daliya is a Surat-based real estate agent who bid unsuccessfully to purchase Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s pinstriped suit at an auction in 2015, the proceeds of which were donated to the Clean Ganga Project.
An undeterred Daliya, however, embarked on a larger philanthropic mission: to bring financial stability to the girl.
Under his Badshah Sukanya Smridhi Yojana, the businessman provided parents in his Patel (Patidar) community with more than one daughter with bank bonds that would earn them Rs 2.31 lakh upon maturity after 21 years. Daliya pays the premium in full, and the money accumulated is intended to be used for the girl’s higher education or marriage.
Earlier this week, 1,000 parents received the bonds at a reception. Launched in 2015, 10,000 bonds, intended only for the second or subsequent daughter, were delivered in the first year.
According to Daliya, bonds with a total maturity of Rs 200 crore will be awarded, with Daliya spending 56 crore on premium payments.
Clearly a sidekick of Modi who the prime minister named during a recent visit to the city for the inauguration of a hospital, Daliya said he was only contributing with his strength to a good cause. “Shortly after Narendrabhai, as Gujarat CM launched the Save Girl Child campaign, I organized various events to raise awareness, especially among the Patels. But at the end of the decade-long campaign, I realized that it was difficult to bring about such social change without providing financial support, ”Daliya told HT.
Daliya said he was driven by his poor background to help those in need. He came to Surat from Bhavnagar in Saurashtra at the age of 13 to work as a diamond polisher. Gradually, he became the owner of diamond factories, electric looms and also one of the largest real estate companies in Gujarat.
“I have seen that families feel more devastated when their second or third child is also a girl. This situation, especially in poor families, unconsciously leads to discrimination. That’s why the link is only for the second daughter and the following ones, ”he said.
The situation, he said, was dire in his community of Patidar suffering from a biased sex ratio. The female-to-male ratio for Patidars is estimated at just 800 per 1,000 men against the state average of 919 per 1,000, forcing many Patidars to seek wives outside Gujarat.
Some in his business circle whisper that Daliya’s motives are not entirely noble. “He’s watching the publicity and Modi’s attention,” one said on condition of anonymity.
But the businessman, affectionately known as Badshah, is winning a lot of hearts with his initiative right now. He leads a team of volunteers who stay in touch with doctors and advise parents against female feticide.
“I see a certain difference in the attitude of parents towards girls, especially among young parents. They seem to understand the situation well. And with little help from the company, they now seem to welcome the little girl wholeheartedly, ”he said.