Shree Mulay


The census data from India released on March 31, 2011 show that the sex ratio amongst 0-6 year-olds  has steadily declined to the lowest level since independence,  standing at an average of 917 females per 1000 males, a shameful record for a country that claims to be the new emerging powerhouse amongst nations.


There has been a slight improvement in the sex ratios in Punjab and Haryana, which had the lowest ratios amongst the states but still remain at the bottom of the list. Haryana has 830 female children and Punjab 846 against per 1000 male child. Himachal Pradesh, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Mizoram and Andaman and Nicobar Islands have also recorded slight improvements in sex ratios over the numbers recorded in the 2001 census but in all the remaining 27 states and Union Territories, the child sex ratio shows decline over Census 2001 with the exception of Kerala. Kerala with 1084 has the highest sex ratio while Daman and Diu has the lowest sex ratio of 618. Another fact that has come to light is that the tribal areas such as Nagaland, Tripura, Mizoram and Meghalaya have a better sex ratio than the more developed regions of the country. The female literacy rates in these regions exceed 70% and corresponding percentage for Kerala is 92%. However, female literacy rates do not explain the better sex ratios because Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Maharashtra,  all have literacy rates that exceed 70%, so what is the explanation for the greater male preference in these regions? Perhaps a more detailed analysis of the census data will reveal whether resurgence of Hindu chauvinism is at the root of  missing girls in India.


India signed on to the Millennium Development goals with specific targets to be achieved by 2015. The goal was to reduce extreme poverty from 37.5 percent in 1990 to about 18.75 percent, in 2015; reduce under five mortality rate (U5MR) from 125 deaths per thousand live births in 1988-92 to 42 in 2015; reduce maternal mortality (MMR) from 437 deaths per 100,000 live births in 1991 to 109 by 2015. While there have been advances according to many observers of the Indian social scene Feudal social structures continue to oppress millions of people. Health and economic indices of the Scheduled Castes and Tribes show much lower rates of health and greater poverty. Patriarchal society places the burden on girls and women, especially in rural India. Without dramatic changes in social structures, improvements in health and economic status will be illusory and 2015 will come and go without meeting the targets to improve the health and education of the most marginalized in India. The time for action is now.

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