Gujarat’s tribal areas too ditch their girl child

,TNN | Jan 29, 2014, 03.44 AM IST

AHMEDABAD: Over half a century ago, Gujarati scholar and demographer Pravin Visaria had highlighted excess mortality and biases associated with girl child and warned that skewed sex ratio would pose a serious problem for India. 

Even five decades later, Gujarat has refused to take note of the problem as over 36% of its talukas have recorded a decline in the number of girl child between 2001 and 2011. 

A major decline has taken place in talukas in tribal districts. Saurashtra and Kutch regions have five talukas where the number of girls has dropped in the past decade. Since central and north Gujarat districts like Mehsana, Kheda, Anand, Patan and Gandhinagar had shown poorest sex ratio in 2011, more efforts by government and NGOs remained concerted there. 

The drop in number of girl child in 0-6 age in 81 out of 225 talukas between 2001 and 2011 is crucial because the problem of skewed sex ratio in India is more prominent in Gujarat, which ranked among the worst five states in the country. 

"While central and north Gujarat has shown improvement, we did not notice that tribal districts that traditionally had healthy girl child numbers too are falling prey to two-child norm and succumbing to the lure of having a male child," says noted development researcher Leela Visaria, wife of late Pravin Visaria. 

Biggest loser of girls has been Dahod district where in Devgadh Baria, the child sex ratio has dropped by an alarming 59 points from 999 in 2001 to 940 girls per 1,000 boys in 2011. In Fatehpura, the ratio has dropped by 41 points from 981 to 942. Dhanera in Banaskantha recorded a drop of 45 points where child sex ratio dropped from 930 to 885. 

"The child sex ratio in Gujarat has improved by a negligible three points from 883 in 2001 to 886 in 2011. Every village will have to be focal point for the 'save the girl child' campaign to ensure a holistic growth in number of girls," says sociologist Dr Gaurang Jani 

"Tribal districts are developing. Development and sex ratio are unfortunately inversely related. We have observed that urbanization has affected their mindset too which is reflecting in the figures. The health department is more focused towards ensuring that the urban vices do not affect the moral mindset of tribals and sex ratio in the tribal districts remain healthy," said health commissioner P K Taneja.