Why the report of Niti Aayog on the child sex ratio is disheartening? How the technological growth has contributed to this menace of declining child sex ratio?

Published: March 29, 2018

The sex ratio at birth (SRB) is the number of girls born for every 1,000 boys. The Niti Ayog report shows that

  • SRB at national level had dropped from 906 in 2012-2014 to 900 in 2013-2015. 
  • 17 of 21 large Indian States saw a drop in the SRB with Gujarat performing the worst registering a decline by 53 points. 

Further the reports of India’s Sample Registration System show the SRB fell even further in 2014-2016, from 900 to 898. These figures are the reflection of status of the women in the society. If this imbalance in the child sex ratio is not addressed it will lead to social unrest in future.
In natural circumstances, the SRB hovers around 952 girls for every 1,000 boys. The number of girls born is naturally lower than the number of boys. Demographers speculate that this may be nature’s way of offsetting the higher risk that men have of dying. Male babies are biologically weaker than females. Men have historically witnessed higher mortality rates owing to risk-taking behavior and participation in wars. This evens out the sex ratio of a population as it grows older. 
But the Indian case is unique. This highly disturbing trend of decreasing sex ratio is not new for India. India has seen a consistent lowering of the SRB since the 1970s.
Role of technology in declining SRB:

  • Till the 1970s female infanticide was the preferred way of killing the girl child.
  • With the development of technology like amniocentesis for testing genetic abnormalities, soon the method was used to determine the child’s sex and to abort it, if female. 
  • Further innovations like ultrasound scanning allowed more people to use sex selective abortions.

Noticing these disturbing trends government intervened with prenatal Diagnostics Techniques Act which punishes healthcare professionals for telling expectant parents the sex of a child with imprisonment and hefty fines. There were further technological innovations which permitted sex selective conception. To counter this, the PNDT act was amended to become the Prenatal Conception and Prenatal Determination Act (PC-PNDT). The recent reports of Niti Aayog show that the act was unable to achieve its stated objectives of preventing sex-selected abortions and conceptions.
To prevent the menace there needs a concentrated approach. The success story of Haryana under Beti Bachao Beti Padhao is a testimony to this. It’s time to have a multidimensional approach to fight this menace of declining child sex ratio to emulate the success of Haryana all over the country.

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