Differential sex ratio in India

Sex ratio (also known as Gender Ratio) is the ratio of males to females in a population. The sex ratio is the number of females per 1000 males in a particular area at a given time. The sex ratio is 943:1000 in India as per the 2011 census.

A recent report from the NITI Aayog highlighted that sex ratio at birth (SRB) nationwide had dropped.

Highlights from the report:

  • A recent report from the NITI Aayog highlighted sex ratio at birth (SRB) nationwide had dropped from 906 in 2012-2014 to 900 in 2013-2015.
  • In all, 17 of 21 large Indian States saw a drop in the SRB, with Gujarat performing the worst, declining 53 points.
  • Also, newer data from India’s Sample Registration System show the SRB fell even further in 2014-2016, from 900 to 898.
  • According to the Census of 2011, Haryana had a low sex ratio of 877 females per 1000 males

There are multiple trends in declining the sex ratio. Some of the factors are given below:

  • Pre Natal-Sex Determinationis the main reason of low sex ratio in India
  • Patriarchal societiesin many parts of India have translated their prejudice and bigotry into a compulsive preference for boys and discriminations against the girl child.
  • Women work is always socially devalued with limited autonomy in decision making.
  • Dowry is the main cause of low sex ratio.
  • Poverty and lack of education:Extreme poverty and lack of education are also some of the reasons for women’s low status in society.
  • Infant and Maternal Mortality– Infant mortality rate is the number of death of babies before the age of one. Due to female foeticide, the sex ratio declines terribly. Maternal mortality also contributes to the declining sex ratio as most of the women die during the childbirth due to improper care and less facilities.
  • Lack of empowerment of womenThere is a lack of empowerment of women especially in the rural areas. Women do not enjoy opportunities as men do. Due to lack of education, women are unable to establish their roles in many places. The state of Uttar Pradesh has become like a grave for girls.
  • Social status of women–In most parts of India, women are merely considered as an object. People are worried about the dowry issue with the birth of a girl child. Due to financial problem, most of the families in rural areas prefer male child over female.
  • Low Sex ratio at birth has led to large numbers of “surplus men” in countries like India and China.
  • Skewed sex ratio lead to more violence against men and women, as well as human trafficking.
  • In India, some villages in Haryana and Punjab have such poor ratios that men “import” brides from other states. This is often accompanied by the exploitation of these brides.

Due to the declining sex ratio, the government has introduced certain schemes to tackle the issue. Some of these schemes are given below.

  • Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao– This is one of the important campaigns introduced by the government to generate awareness and improve the efficiency of the welfare services meant for women.
  • Sukanya Samriddhi Account–This scheme has been notified by the Ministry of Finance on 2 December, 2014. The initiative aims at opening a new account for the girl child.
  • The Girl Child Protection Scheme–The scheme is aimed at preventing the gender discrimination by protecting the rights of the girl child. It also tries to eliminate the negative attitudes and practices against the girl child.
  • Aapki Beti, Humari Beti –Haryana has the lowest sex ratio in India. To cope up with this issue, the Haryana government launched this scheme. The scheme would be implemented in both rural and urban areas. It would target the girl child of Scheduled Caste and Below Poverty Line (BPL) families.
  • Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (Regulation and Prevention of Misuse) Bill: introduced in Parliament in 1991, passed in 1994 to stop female infanticide and many more such Acts.
  • Lack of resources to carry out inspection and monitoring
  • Lack of corresponding qualified staff
  • Poor performance of advisory committees at various levels
  • Insufficient understanding of the law and procedural errors.
  • Strict implementation of lawsbanning female foeticide and dowry
  • Providing old age pension for parents who had no son
  • Free and compulsory education for girls
  • Job reservationfor women in specific occupations and giving them an equal share in the property, in the true sense of the word.
  • Efforts should be made to implement these laws effectively.
  • Strict punishmentshould be given to the defaulters.
  • The vulnerable minds of the children should be so influenced that they grow up as adults who consider practicing dowry and female foeticide as immoral.
  • Women should also be socializedfrom early childhood to consider themselves as equal to men. This would be a positive influence on the coming generations as today’s girl child would be tomorrow’s mother as well as mother in-law.
  • Need to change the Mind-set of the people.
  • Increasing female education and economic prosperityhelp to improve the ratio.
  • It is hoped that a balanced sex ratio at birthcould be realised over time, although this does not seem to be happening during the period 2011-18.
  • In view of the complexity of son preference resulting in gender-biased sex selection, government actions need to be supplemented by improving women’s status in the society.

In conclusion, there is an urgent need to reach young people both for reproductive health education and services as well as to cultivate gender equity norms. This could reduce the effect of population momentum and accelerate progress towards reaching a more normal sex-ratio at birth. India’s population future depends on it.