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Good, Bad and Ugly

August 28, 2009

Uh Oh! A closer scrutiny reveals some darker aspects of the earlier good news about the positive change in Delhi’s female-to-male sex-ratio. I covered the good part in an earlier post. To summarize it here, the female to male sex-ratio in Delhi increased to 1004:1000 in 2008 from a dismal 905:1000 in 2001.

That was the good part. Now for the bad part.  Questions continue to be raised about interpreting the numbers. Does it mean that people not belonging to Delhi are registering births in Delhi because of the financial incentive being provided by the Delhi govt to the family of the girl-child under the Ladli scheme? If this is the case, then the numbers might be misleading and even distorting the facts. Plus, there are doubts whether “the dramatic improvement in sex ratio is actually an indication of a decrease in female feticide or simply underregistration of male births.”

"Ocean of Pearls"

But here’s the ugly part. When the sex-ratio of 1004:1000 was broken down by religion, it revealed a religious bias. As per a TOI report, “While the sex ratio at birth in Hindus and Muslims is 1,002 females per 1,000 males and 1,040 females per 1,000 males respectively, for Sikhs and Christians it is still languishing at 873 and 875, respectively.”

The Sikh community is generally seen as a prosperous community, with most of it falling above the ambit of the low-income scale a family needs to be in to avail of the financial incentives of Ladli.

Earlier studies have shown that prosperous sections of the Indian society, irrespective of religion, have a low female-to-male sex ratio as compared with the poorer sections of the society. What incentives can be employed to change the mindset of the prosperous where the problem is more acute?

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