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Posted at: Mar 3, 2017, 1:04 AM; last updated: Mar 3, 2017, 1:04 AM (IST)

Improved gender ratio

Changing mindset result of persistence
A daughter may still not be the first preference for a majority of families across North India, her elimination from the womb has shown a noticeable decline. The child-sex ratio, for the first time in decades, shows an improvement; there are 919 girls for 1000 boys in the 0 to 6 six years bracket. An indicator of positive social development, a result of persistent, multi-pronged efforts of the state and sections of society, the progress has been achieved not by legislation alone. Female foeticide is a social ill which couldn’t be remedied by a PNDT Act pill. The real cause behind the declining number of girls is not sex determination alone but the pitiable social status of women. 

Punjab and Haryana, the states with the worst account on gender ratio in 2005, showed a positive trend in 2015. The efforts initiated by the previous government in Haryana, to showcase female sports stars as the state’s mascot, paid dividends. For the first time families with daughters felt there was no ‘shame’ in not having sons. Female wrestlers did their villages proud in the international arena. Then the state administration had to take the PM’s campaign, Beti Bachao Beti Padhao, with the seriousness it required. This resulted in the setting up of a separate secretariat in 2015 to monitor the drive against female foeticide. 

A lot changed because the birth of a girl child was incentivised under different schemes. In Punjab the creation of self-help groups under the Nanhi Chhan programme saved women from unwanted abortions. Bollywood ads and feature films with a strong message condemning male preference stirred social consciousness, prompting a few to become harbingers of change — to celebrate a daughter’s Lohri and brides doing ‘ghud charhi’ in Haryana. Beyond the tokenism, a lot still needs to change. The government has to take serious steps towards curbing over-the-counter sale of MTP pills, to check rampantly used portable, affordable, handy ultrasound machines for sex detection — a new threat that evades surveillance of ultrasound centres. The battle has just begun.

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