Rashi Aditi Ghosh & Ankita Chakrabarty/Zee Research Group
India’s dismal girl child record has got worse during the last one year with four of the eight states surveyed under the Annual Health Survey 2012 recording further fall. These states include Madhya Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Bihar and Orissa.
These states had lower than the national average sex ratio as per Census 2011, and now under the Annual Health Survey 2012 the sex child ratio has registered a further fall there.
Madhya Pradesh observed a slide from 912 in 2011 to 904 in 2012, while in Uttarakhand it fell from 886 to 866. In Bihar and Orissa, it fell from 933 to 919 and 934 to 905 respectively.
The sex ratio has also fallen in the states of Assam and Jharkhand where it recorded a slump from 957 to 925 and 943 to 923, respectively. The national sex ratio average as per Census 2011 was 940.
There is no official word yet from either the Health Ministry or the state administration. However, voices of dismay are vocal. Sushila Baluni, chairperson of Commission for Women, Uttarakhand says, “According to our reports districts like Haridwar and Dehradun have registered underperformance with respect to sex ratio. The declining sex ratio of the state as a whole is a matter of concern for the state and for the commission as well.”
A look at the past depicts that sex ratio in India has shown a secular decline since the beginning of the twentieth century, barring some improvement during 1951, 1981, 2001 and 2011 Census.
The defeatist attitude is amply visible. Ex-chairperson of Madhya Pradesh’s Commission for Women, Krishan Kanta Tomar says, “During my tenure as chairperson, I conducted many camps and even visited concern areas to spread awareness, but the hatred towards daughters is so deep rooted that it’s not easy to remove the belief instantly from people’s mind.”
While the government says it has put checks and balances in place, the mounting numbers show the situation on ground has hardly improved. Reinforcing the crisis situation, cases of feticide registered under section 135 and 316 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) increased from 111 in 2010 to 132 in 2011.
Medical professionals on their part seem keen to push the blame on technology. Dr Sunil Mehra, executive director at Mamta, a maternal health focus NGO, says, “Misuse of ultrasound technology for determining sex has still not been curbed. Technology is a boon to us and rather than using it for destruction we should use it in either determining congenital defects or any other complications.”
Dr Sheetal Agarwal, senior gynecologist at Rockland Hospital, Delhi, says, “Conducting sex selection test is a crime and not just the people even the doctors who are doing these tests are to be blamed and punished.” She blames the growing middle class for majority of sex determination tests, especially in urban India.
This is an ominous trend and adds to India’s sex ratio woes pegged by Human Development Report 2011 at 129.