India’s sex ratio at birth normalises slightly

  • IASbaba
  • August 25, 2022
  • 0
Social Issues
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In News: Study says sex ratio at birth fell from 111 boys per 100 girls in 2011 to 108 boys per 100 girls in 2019-21

  • The latest study by Pew Research Center has pointed out that “son bias” is on a decline in India and the average annual number of baby girls “missing” in India fell from about 480,000 (4.8 lakh) in 2010 to 410,000 (4.1 lakh) in 2019.
  • The “missing” here refers to how many more female births would have occurred during this time if there were no female-selective abortions.
  • Among the major religions, the biggest reduction in sex selection seems to be among the groups that previously had the greatest gender imbalances, particularly among Sikhs.
  • World over, boys modestly outnumber girls at birth, at a ratio of approximately 105 male babies for every 100 female babies.
  • That was the ratio in India in the 1950s and 1960s, before prenatal sex tests became available across the country.
  • India legalised abortion in 1971 but the trend of sex selection started picking up in the 1980s due to the introduction of ultrasound technology.
  • In the 1970s, India’s sex ratio was at par with the global average of 105-100, but this widened to 108 boys per 100 girls in the early 1980s, and reached 110 boys per 100 girls in the 1990s.
  • From a large imbalance of about 111 boys per 100 girls in India’s 2011 census, the sex ratio at birth appears to have normalised slightly over the last decade, narrowing to about 109 in the 2015-16 wave of the National Family Health Survey and to 108 boys in the latest wave of the NFHS, conducted from 2019-21.
  • The Pew Research Center report points out that between 2000-2019, nine crore female births went “missing” because of female-selective abortions.
  • The report has also analysed religion-wise sex selection, pointing out that the gap was the highest for Sikhs.
  • The study points out that while the Sikhs make up less than 2% of the Indian population, they accounted for an estimated 5%, or approximately 440,000 (4.4 lakh), of the nine crore baby girls who went “missing” in India between 2000 and 2019.
  • The share of “missing” girls among Hindus is also above their respective population share. “Hindus make up 80% of India’s population but accounted for an estimated 87%, or approximately eight crores of the females “missing” due to sex-elective abortions.
  • The share of female births “missing” among Muslims and Christians during this period is lower than each group’s share of the Indian population.

Measures taken by Government to fight sex selective abortions

Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques Act

  • The act was enacted in 1994 in response to the decline in Sex ratio in India, which deteriorated from 972 in 1901 to 927 in 1991.
  • The main purpose of the act is ban the use of sex selection techniques before or after conception and prevent the misuse of prenatal diagnostic technique for sex selective abortion.

Salient features of the act:

  • It regulates the use of pre-natal diagnostic techniques, like ultrasound and amniocentesis by allowing them their use only to detect few cases.
  • No laboratory or centre or clinic will conduct any test including ultrasonography for the purpose of determining the sex of the foetus.
  • No person, including the one who is conducting the procedure as per the law, will communicate the sex of the foetus to the pregnant woman or her relatives by words, signs or any other method.
  • Advertisement for pre-natal and pre-conception sex determination facilities will attract fine of Rs 10000 and imprisonment upto 3 years.
  • The Act mandates compulsory registration of all diagnostic laboratories, all genetic counselling centres, genetic laboratories, genetic clinics and ultrasound clinics.
  • The Act was amended to bring the technique of pre conception sex selection and ultrasound technique within the ambit of the act.
  • The 2003 amendment to the act led to establishment of the central supervisory board and state level supervisory board was constituted.

Other measure taken by government to improve condition of females:

‘Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao’ campaign

The objectives of this initiative are to prevent of gender biased sex selective elimination, and to ensure survival and protection of the girl child. The strategies involved in this scheme are:

  • Implement a sustained Social Mobilization and Communication Campaign to create equal value for the girl child & promote her education.
  • Place the issue of decline in CSR/SRB in public discourse, improvement of which would be a indicator for good governance.
  • Focus on Gender Critical Districts and Cities low on CSR for intensive & integrated action.
  • Mobilize & Train Panchayati Raj Institutions/Urban local bodies/ Grassroot workers as catalysts for social change, in partnership with local community/women’s/youth groups.

Legislations for creating a safe and secure environment for females.

  • POCSO Act (Prevention of Children from Sexual offences)
  • Sexual Harassment at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act
  • Changes in the Criminal Law on the recommendations of Justice Verma Committee

Enhanced Focus on Health & Education of Child

  • Provision of better nutrition through ICDS and MDM.
  • Janani Shishu Suraksha Karyakaram
  • Scholarship schemes like Pragati
  • Special girl’s school like Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalayas

Political Empowerment

  • Reservation of seats for women in Panchayats and Urban Local bodies are provided to enhance the decision making powers of women which leads to increased awareness among women about their rights especially reproductive rights.

Must Read: Child Malnutrition

Source: The Hindu

Previous Year Question

Q.1) Pradhan Mantri MUDRA Yojana is aimed at (2016)

  1. bringing the small entrepreneurs into formal financial system
  2. providing loans to poor farmers for cultivating particular crops
  3. providing pensions to old and destitute persons
  4. funding the voluntary organizations involved in the promotion of skill development and employment generation


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