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Maharashtra slumps in ‘Beti Bachao’

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There is no indication that sex determination and female foeticide have completely stopped in Maharashtra. The sex ratio at birth in the state has further declined from the base year 2014-16. Thus, Maharashtra has failed in PM Modi’s ambitious ‘Beti Bachao’ programme. The latest health ranking report of NITI Aayog has revealed it which is a matter of concern for a progressive state like Maharashtra.

The report says that the ratio of newborn girls per 1,000 boys went two points down. On the other hand, Maharashtra’s sex ratio based on registered births has been at 904 in 2016 and at 913 in 2017. In Mumbai, the Sex Ratio at Birth has shown a rise since 2013, when it was 930, to 937 in 2016 and 938 in 2017.

According to Census reports, Maharashtra’s general sex ratio declined from 934 in 1991 to 922 in 2001 but marginally rose to 929 in 2011. In contrast, India’s sex ratio increased from 927 in 1991 to 933 in 2011 and 940 in 2011. The Child Sex Ratio (CSR) (ratio of girls to boys between zero to six) fell from 946 in 1991 to 913 in 2001 and 894 in 2011 in the state, as against India’s 946 in 1991, 927 in 2001 and 919 in 2011.

On being asked about this, Congress spokesperson Hemlata Patil told Afternoon Voice, “The state government’s policy is responsible for the decline in Sex Ratio at Birth in Maharashtra. Sex determination is being done even today. The Chief Minister did not take any concrete step for saving girl children. The administration is not registering cases against guilty doctors and clinics.”

As per “Healthy States, Progressive India” titled report of NITI Aayog, there are surprises in the performances of states when it comes to sex ratio. The sex ratio at birth is now the highest in Chhattisgarh at 963, which has overtaken Kerala. Kerala’s sex ratio at birth has fallen from 967 to 959. However, Maharashtra, Gujarat, and Rajasthan have worsened. Haryana has the worst sex ratio at 832 although this is a slight improvement from 831. UP has also improved a bit from 879 to 882.

Socialist activist Dr. Kumar Saptarshi said, “People who are economically sound are more indulged in the practices of sex determination and female foeticide. This problem has spread in the rural areas of Maharashtra too. Due to social reasons, people opt for a male child. The common man thinks that they have to pay dowry if a girl is born in the family. Mass awareness programme should be conducted to stop female foeticide. ”

It is remarkable that Sex Ratio at Birth (SRB) or the number of girls born for every 1000 boys born during a specific year is an important indicator and reflects the extent to which there is a reduction in the number of girl children born by sex-selective abortions. This indicator was only available for the category of larger states. The SRB is substantially lower in almost all larger states. There is a clear need for Maharashtra to effectively implement the Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (PCPNDT) Act, 1994 and take appropriate measures to promote the value of the girl child.

On the other hand, as per records of Maharashtra government, girl power is on the rise in Maharashtra. The state government’s birth registration figures reveal that more girls were born in 2017 compared with the two previous years. This is the second highest sex ratio since 2013. In 2016, the sex ratio at birth in the state was 904 girls per 1,000 boys, which improved to 913 for newborns in 2017. This is the highest in three years the figure for 2015 was 907, down from 914 in 2014. This sex ratio based on registered births was 900 five years ago.

A senior health department official said, “The civil registration system’s provisional figures show an upward trend for the sex ratio in 2017.” The report is based on the Civil Registration System (CRS) which records births and deaths under the Registration of Births and Deaths Act, 1969. “The figures suggest that the sex ratio has improved in districts like Wardha, Gadchiroli, Gondia, Nanded, and Jalna, while it has declined in Jalgaon, Yavatmal and Hingoli,” the official explained.

The highest increase in the birth of girls has been observed in Wardha where the ratio has surged by 243 points from 933 in 2016 to 1,176 in 2017, followed by Pune (63 points) from 845 to 908, Gadchiroli (55 points) from 945 to 1,000 and Buldhana (40 points) up from 877 to 917. However, the fall is visible in districts like Hingoli (92 points) where the sex ratio at birth is down from 919 to 827, Jalgaon (58 points from 922 in 2016 to 864 in 2017) and Bhandara, which saw a decline of 38 points from 956 to 918. In districts like Mumbai (937 in 2016 and 938 in 2017), Aurangabad (898 and 899), the rise has been marginal between 2016 and 2017, while the fall has been similarly minimal in Ratnagiri (927 and 926) and Solapur (883 and 882). “Considering the median population and its growth, we expect around 19 lakh births to be registered annually. Last year, we had about 18 lakh registered births translating into an over 90 per cent reporting efficiency,” the official said.

While 2017 recorded India’s second-highest sex ratio at birth in Maharashtra, some districts have shown a drastic fall in the number of girls. In 2013, the sex ratio at birth was just 900 which improved to 914 in 2014 but marginally dipped to 907 in 2015. The provisional birth registration figures for 2016 and 2017 stand at 904 and 913 respectively.

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