By Maya Palit
The gender ratio in India is looking pretty dismal according to the projections of the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation. Drawing on Census and World Bank data, it has confirmed that the proportion of the youth in the country’s population is decreasing, and the sex ratio amongst the youth has been steadily falling since 1991. It also predicts that the sex ratio will fall to 898 girls for 1,000 boys by 2031 (whereas it was 939:1,000 in 2011) with the proportion of the youth predicted to fall to 31.8 percent by 2031 too.
Sex ratio at birth has increased slightly in the country, from 914 to 919 in the period between 2004 and 2015, and states like Haryana have managed to increase their sex ratios and make efforts to combat sex selective abortions. But in Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, and particularly in Assam and Sikkim (the latter has experienced an especially dramatic fall from 984 in 2004- 5 to 809 in 2015-16), the sex ratio at birth has been falling consistently.
Sex-selective abortions (a committee in Maharashtra recently put forth a no-brainer proposal to tackle these) with the proliferation of technology that assists in sex determination (a few years ago, it was found that affluent areas in Mumbai with access to this technology had worse sex ratios), maternal mortality, and infant mortality are some of the obvious reasons behind the falling sex ratio. The central government’s Beti Bachao Beti Padhao programme has apparently not been able to do enough on the ground to prevent sex determination, and policy makers remain stumped about effective ways to tackle the situation.