Declining sex ratio alarming

While the declining sex ratios in India have always been a matter of serious concern, fresh data and projections should cause alarm. The UN had last year issued a warning that the falling child sex ratios had reached emergency proportions in the country and urgent steps were needed to reverse the situation. The trend, which was especially strong in certain regions like the north and northwest, continues to be so. Though the latest census figures have shown a better male-female ratio, fewer girls were born than boys. A prestigious international institution, the French Institute of Development, which has studied the issue, has made worse projections about the future. It has said that there will only be 100 women for 190 men in India after five decades, if the present trend continues. About 15 per cent of young men will have to live a life of forced bachelorhood then.

Kerala and Pondicherry are the states with the best sex ratio in the country. Even there more boys are born than girls, though the situation is nowhere as bad as is states like Haryana, which has the worst ratio of 877 women for 1,000 men. Though scientists point out that there may be a greater statistical probability for the first-born child to be male, the real reason for the adverse sex ratio in the country is the preference for male children. This has roots in the entrenched patriarchal attitudes and values in the society which considers a male child an asset and female child a liability. It leads to hatred for and neglect of the girl child. There is no concept of family that gives equal status to male and female members. There are economic and social reasons also. The dowry system is a major factor in the perpetuation of discrimination against women.

The law against sex determination tests are violated wantonly in spite of all the steps to enforce it, and the stringent punishment for violations. Female foeticide and infanticide are common and it is doubtful if the laws and the awareness campaigns have made much dent on the prevailing attitudes and practices. The economic and social consequences of an unequal gender relationship will be immense. It will lead to rise in crimes against women, practices like polyandry and more conflict in society. Increasing gender imbalance can be disruptive of society in many other ways. Unfortunately the warnings are not needed. A society can be normal and healthy only when there is no gender bias and there is a balanced sex ratio. 

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