Sense of Census: Save the Girl Child

Sense Of Census: Save The Girl Child

Punjab, Haryana and J&K have the worst track records

Rukmini Shrinivasan & Himanshi Dhawan | TNN 

New Delhi: India’s child sex ratio continues to plummet, indicating that female feticide and infanticide remain rampant. Provisional data released by the census office for 2011 shows that the child sex ratio (0-6 years) has further declined to 914 girls for every 1,000 boys as compared to 927 in 2001. 
    The divide between the north and south has got even starker with J&K’s child sex ratio falling precipitously to 859, making it the third worst state after Haryana and Punjab. In 2001, J&K had a better child sex ratio than the Indian average. With the exception of Himachal Pradesh, no state in the north now has a child sex ratio above 900. 
    Haryana (830) and Punjab (846) remain at the bottom of the table, but have improved over 2001. Punjab is the most improved state with a 48-point increase over 2001, while Haryana has 11 more girls per 1,000 boys than it did in 2001. 

    The two prosperous agrarian states are among only eight including Chandigarh, Himachal Pradesh, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Mizoram and Andaman & Nicobar that have improved their child sex ratio over 2001. Kerala and Puducherry, which had improved their child sex ratios in 2001, have joined the rest of the country in a decline. J&K has seen the most precipitous drop, 82 points, in its child sex ratio, with Maharashtra registering the next biggest fall among the major states. 
    India’s north-east seems to have a much healthier attitude to girl children than the rest of the country: Mizoram, Meghalaya and Arunachal Pradesh have the highest child sex ratios among the states; Chhattisgarh and Kerala follow a little further behind. 
    Overall, the last 30 years have been cruel for India’s young girls. There are now 48 fewer girls per 1,000 boys than there were in 1981. J&K, Maharashtra and Haryana have had the worst 30-year decline in child sex ratios. 
    “Whatever measures that have been put in over the last 40 years have not had any impact on the child sex ratio,” Union home secretary G K Pillai conceded. Minister of state for women and child development Krishna Tirath expressed concern over the low child sex ratio in states like Haryana and Punjab and said that she would take up the issue with the state governments. 
    “It (the decline in child sex ratio) was expected, but it is a warning signal for the nation to wake up,” Ranjana Kumari, director of Centre for Social Research, said. She said the law banning sex-based abortion “is not stringently implemented”. “The caution should be taken seriously. We are leading to a crisis situation,” she said. Social activist Dr Sabu George said the larger cause for concern was the fact that previously unaffected states were also indulging in sex determination because of aggressive promotion of the sex selection tests by doctors. 
    The census also measures overall sex ratio, which is the proportion of females to every 1,000 males across all ages. The overall sex ratio has increased from 933 females for every 1,000 males in 2001, to 940 in 2011, indicating that a girl child’s chance at life greatly improves once she crosses the age of 6. This is in line with a general improvement in the overall sex ratio over the last twenty years and is the highest since 1971. Only three major states have shown a decline in their sex ratio: J&K, Bihar and Gujarat. 
    Delhi, Haryana and Punjab are the states with the worst overall sex ratios. Kerala and Puducherry are the only two states or UTs where women outnumber men. A healthy sex ratio remains a largely southern phenomenon — Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Chhattisgarh round out the top five. 
The ugly truth is out there in Jhajjar 
Haryana government’s tall claims of saving the girl child fell flat on Thursday when census data exposed the state’s ugly underbelly – sex ratio in Jhajjar district has touched rock bottom in the 0-6 age group and stands at 774 to 1,000 as against the state figure of 877. Health officials conceded that the problem of preference for the male child is so deep-rooted that they still are not being able to stop the practice of sex determination. Government sources said the district’s proximity to New Delhi provides couples more options of sex determination. TNN 
Mahendergarh blames it on Rajasthan 
Haryana health minister Narender Singh represents Mahendergarh. And, that’s a shame because the district has the second lowest sex ratio after Jhajjar. Worse still is the fact that the district is also home to former health minister Geeta Bhukkal. The district has been awarded by the state for notching up the “best improvement in sex ratio in recent years”. But, the government is quick to pass the buck “Mahendergarh is surrounded by Rajasthan from three sides and has a rub off effect as the problem of female feticide is rampant in the neighbouring state,” an official said. TNN 
Migrants lower Daman & Diu sex ratio? 
The Union Territories of Daman & Diu and Dadra & Nagar Haveli are at the bottom of the sex ratio in the latest national census. While Daman & Diu has 618 per 1,000 males, the ratio in Dadra & Nagar Haveli is 775:1,000. In fact, Haryana, with 877 females per 1,000 males, fares better. The national average is 940. Daman & Diu and Dadra & Nagar Haveli, coastal enclaves which were part of Portuguese India until 1961, are watering holes in dry Gujarat. Mohammed Abid, chief executive officer of Daman, attributes the low sex ratio to migrant labour, preference for male child and the rise in single-child families. ‘‘The large number of migrant labourers have increased the population but decreased the sex ratio,’’ he said. TNN


BABY BOOM? Newborns at a hospital in Ranchi on Thursday