Saturday 7 September 2019

Is Uttarakhand on the path of improving its Sex Ratio at Birth?

Written by Anil Singh

According to Indian Government, Uttarakhand among the states which saw an improvement in Sex ratio from 918 to 931 in five years: Smriti Irani

The Indian Government yesterday honoured the states of Haryana, Uttarakhand, Delhi, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh for improving sex ratio at birth and awareness generation under the Beti Bachao Beti Padhao campaign.

Nine districts were also awarded for better sex ratio at birth. Uttarakhand's Udham Singh Nagar is among these districts.

During the event, 10 districts were also awarded for good work in awareness generation and outreach activities under the campaign.

Speaking on the occasion, Women and Child Development Minister, Smriti Zubin Irani said national sex ratio improved from 918 to 931 in last 5 years.

The improvement in national sex ratio at birth is a praiseworthy development.

The timing of the award makes it necessary to look at the problem of female foeticide in Uttarakhand

In June this year (2019), Uttarkashi became a talking point after local data showed that no girl child was born in 133 villages in the district in the past three months. Without wasting any time, the local authorities argued that the data was read incorrectly.

The arguments given to falsify the data can be read here. We found most of the arguments non-serious, hence not elaborating on them here. Simple reason being, no miracle can justify the birth of not a single girl child among 216 child births in a span of 3 months. In the same way, no miracle can justify the birth of not a single male child in 180 female births in the same span in a different set of villages.

As far as census data tells, female foeticide has remained a serious issue for Uttarakhand for 20 years now. The situation was not this serious in 2000 (Uttarakhand’s foundation year).

The sex ratio at birth (No. of Girl child born/No. of Boy child born) in 2011 census is below the National average in districts of Haridwar, Dehradun,Udham Singh Nagar and Nainital. These districts can be described as Urban (with Sex detection facilities, better outreach and healthcare) or have high/good literacy. Why such districts perform the worst in sex ratio at birth?

There are multiple reasons.

The most probable ones are -- Easy availability of sex detection facilities and better outreach programmes which sometimes help strengthen social perception against girl child. Last but not the least, in cases of female foeticide, high rate of literacy or better conventional education or economical status doesn't always reflect in a person's perception towards girl child.

As far as the better performing Hill districts of Uttarakhand are concerned then that may be due to low growth of population. The low growth of population may mean migration to more advanced districts for livelihood purposes, or for sex detection and foeticide purposes. In the absence of adequate data it is difficult to know the real situation.

To conclude, female foeticide is still a serious problem in Uttarakhand. In the absence of real data, it is difficult to believe in such claims made by Governments, Local authorities etc.  


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