No place for girls in rising India as child sex ratio reaches ‘emergency proportions’

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A UN report on steadily declining child sex ratio in India has raised more questions on the dwindling number of girls in the country.
Despite being one of the fastest growing economies in the world, India is still grappled with the declining Child Sex Ratio (CSR). Sex ratio which has always been a matter of concern for India and a UN report on the same has raised more questions on the dwindling number of girls in the country.

In its report, titled 'Sex Ratios and Gender Biased Sex Selection: History, Debates and Future Directions, the UN has warned by saying that the steadily declining child sex ratio in India has reached emergency proportions and urgent action must be taken to alleviate this crisis.

"The CSRs have fallen most precipitously during a period of unprecedented economic growth. It has emanated from northern and northwestern India, regions which may be characterized as being in the wake of the Green Revolution and whose levels of prosperity therefore require more careful calibration," says the report.

From 1951 and 2011, CSR declined from 983 to 918 women per 1000 men

According to India's 2011 Census, while the overall female-to-male ratio has improved marginally as compared to the last Census, fewer girls were born than boys.

With the report it is pretty evident that the ‘shining' India is still gender biased. The report said, "India's declining child sex ratio speaks of a culture in which gender inequality is deeply ingrained. Gender biased sex selection is a manifestation of the subordinate status of women in society, with far reaching socio-demographic consequences. Gender equality and gender justice is a direct casualty of this practice."

The facts and figures:

According to the data in the study, Northeast states such as Manipur and Nagaland which are said to be less gender biased have shown a sharp decline in the CSR between 2001 and 2011, even as the ratio has risen in Punjab and Haryana.

As per the report, the CSR in Manipur has dropped from 957 girls to only 936, while Nagaland went from 964 to 943 in the decade. Whereas in states like Punjab and Haryana which are considered as areas with a skewed sex ratio, it improved from 798 to 846 from 819 to 834 in the same period respectively.

However, when looked at data between 1951 and 2011, the study found that the child sex ratio dropped from 983 to 918 women per 1000 men, showing a declining trend across the country in the time period.

Reason of decline:

The falling numbers can be attributed to many reasons including female foeticide, infant mortality rate and many others.
At the launch of the study, Lakshmi Puri, deputy executive director of UN Women said, "It is tragically ironic that the one who creates life is herself denied the right to be born."

Suggesting some steps to improve falling female sex-ratio Ministry of Health and Family Welfare in a report had said, "Some of the reasons commonly put forward to explain the consistently low levels of sex ratio are son preference, low value of girl child, neglect of girl child resulting in higher mortality at younger age, female infanticide, female foeticide, higher childhood mortality and male bias in enumeration of population.

Imbalance in the sex ratio may lead to further decline in the status of women, increase in violence against women, practices of polyandry etc."

How to improve the ratio:

To develop India, the child sex ratio needs to be improved. Steps should be taken to empower women and sensitization about the aforesaid issues is a must to bring about a change.

As the UN report said, "She now requires many more years at home with higher investments in nutrition, health and education... Sons, on the other hand, embody a range of ritual and economic roles. If the current climate of economic volatility and masculine anomie makes them often fall short of expectations, nonetheless at least one is essential for the future of the family. It is this conjuncture that is producing the falling Child Sex Ratio."

It seems that with the onset of development, the life chances of women have further decreased but for a better country these life chances should be improved and the skewed ratios should be at parity. So, ‘Save the girl child' and build a better nation.

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