Critically discuss the significance of the Economic Survey findings on sex ratio of the last child (SRLC) and so called "son meta preference"and "unwanted girls"in India.

Published: February 10, 2018

The preference for sons and strict legal enforcement of PCPNDT act has led the parents to continue having children until they have a son or desired number of son. This so called “son meta preference” has avoided sex-selective abortion, but has hurt the female children by reducing resources available to them. The consequence is that India has 21 million unwanted girls today. The number of 21 million unwanted girls has been reached by looking at the sex ratio of the last child (SRLC) which is heavily skewed in favor of boys. Sex ratio of last birth (females per 100 births) has merely changed from 39.5% to 39% between 2005-06 and 2015-16. We note that as per WHO, the biologically determined natural sex ratio at birth is 1.05 boy for every girl. For India, this ratio is 1.82 for first born boys while 1.65 for last born boys. Comparing India’s ratio to Indonesia, survey concludes that in Indonesia, the sex ratio at birth is close to biological ideal whether the last child is boy or girl. Further, in India also, the SLRC is close to idea in Meghalaya. Higher son meta preference is found in Punjab and Haryana.
The estimations also showed that the child sex ratio is skewed all throughout.
Significance of this estimation

  • This estimate brings out the patriarchal and misogynist attitude still deep rooted in the society.
  • The estimates also put to question the efficacy of various policies, programmes undertaken by the government in the last ten decades.
  • This also draws the attention towards the required corrective actions by bringing gender sensitiveness in the policy making not just in letter but also in spirit.
  • This Unwanted girls are supposed to have less access to resources, as a result the quality of the female workforce would take a hit. This will impact the quality of human resource.
  • The estimates also present a case for introducing the social audits to determine the efficacy of the policies and programmes and to undertake corrective actions as early as possible.
  • The need to incorporate the factors of emotional intelligence, out of box and non conventional solutions to address the various deficiencies haunting the Indian society which are calling for the behavioral change.

The estimation of unwanted girls is a mirror to the deficiencies haunting the Indian society and changes needed in approach to address these structural problems of Indian society.

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