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DAILY NEWS ANALYSIS

GS-I :
  • 03 August, 2019

  • Min Read

Finding the data on missing girls.

GS-II: Finding the data on missing girls.

Context

The sex ratio at birth (SRB) has been dropping continuously since Census 2011, coming down from 909 girls per thousand boys in 2011-2013 to 896 girls in 2015-2017 as per the SRS Statistical Reports.

Facts

Female foeticide continues to increase at an alarming rate, as per the Sample Registration System (SRS) data released for the period 2015-2017.

In the 2014-2016 period, of the 21 large States, only two — Kerala and Chhattisgarh — had an SRB of above 950 girls per 1000 boys. Thus at present, about 5% of girls are ‘eliminated’ before they are born.

Data Problem

  • Niti Aayog acknowledged the seriousness of the problem in its latest report.
  • WCD Minister claimed in the Lok Sabha that SRB has improved from 923 to 931 girls. She was quoting data from the Health Management Information System (HMIS), a fundamentally flawed source that largely considers home deliveries and births in government institutions.
  • Data from the HMIS are incomplete and not representative of the country as a whole as births happening in private institutions are under-reported.

Different data sources

  • Private hospitals had a disproportionate excess of male children births, which the HMIS sample excludes.
  • Sources in the Niti Aayog confirmed that they did consider HMIS data but found after statistical examination that it was unreliable and therefore used sex ratio at birth (SRB).
  • Even when we only consider institutional deliveries in government hospitals, the SRB is falling.
  • The worst regional SRB for government sector was for Northern India (885 girls per thousand boys).
  • The picture was somewhat better for Central India (926) Southern India (940) while the performance of Eastern India (965) and Western India (959) was even better.
  • In the Northeast, where the government is the dominant health-care provider, the government sector SRB rivaled that of the private sector (both are 900).
  • Protecting the integrity of birth statistics will help the people, governments and health professionals to focus on ameliorating the gender gaps at birth.

Bias over firs-born child

  • NFHS-4 data also revealed a bias when it comes to the first-born child the SRB is among first-born children was 927, meaning that 2.5% of first-born girls are eliminated before birth.
  • Field visits in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar revealed a massive expansion of ultrasound clinics even in remote corners and in the absence of stringent implementation of the PCPNDT Act, practically anyone who wants to determine the sex of the foetus is able to get it done illegally.

Insights

  • Increased deterrence in States like Maharastra, Haryana and Rajasthan in recent years has been undermined by the laxity of the biggest States.
  • Central Supervisory Board established under the PCPNDT Act has not met for over one-and-a-half years. It should have ideally met at least thrice during this period.

Source: The Hindu


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