Child sex ratio has dropped to a record five year low in 2014 in the Prime Minister’s own state of Gujarat as data released by the Civil Registration System (CRS) shows that 886 girls were born as against 1,000 boys in the state.
This figure is a major drop of 15 points from 2013 CRS data which recorded 901 girls per 1,000 boys in the state. Junagadh, Anand, Dangs, Rajkot and Sabarkantha recorded alarming decline in number of girls born. Only Jamnagar district recorded a rise in sex ratio where 1,039 girls were born per 1,000 boys.
Improving child sex ratio in his state was one of the major promises of Narendra Modi when he was contesting the Gujarat assembly election in 2007. He ruled the state as Chief Minister from 2001 to 2014, when he became the Prime Minister of India. During his campaign in the 2014 Lok Sabha election, Modi had claimed major success in women’s empowerment in Gujarat during his tenure as the CM.
After becoming PM, Modi launched the ‘beti bachao beti padao’ (Save girl child, educate girl child) programme amid much fanfare in January 2015 with an initial corpus of Rs100 crore.
Even last year, the Gujarat Government had been severely criticized for its failure to improve child sex ratio by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG), which observed that the sex ratio at birth in 15 out of 26 districts in the state had declined in 2013 as compared to 2012.
“As per census 2011, the trend of overall sex ratio of the state had declined though all-India ratio had improved (from 933 to 943) as compared to 2012 as per data of Civil Registration System,” the CAG had observed.
The CAG also noticed that while Gujarat registered 70.95 lakh pregnancies between years 2009 and 2014, the number of registered deliveries was only 57.66 lakh, leaving a difference of 13.29 lakh. The CAG report said, “The district authorities had not properly investigated the reasons for difference.”
Criticising the Gujarat government for its failure in taking adequate action against sex determination tests, the CAG observed that out of 181 offences registered, only 49 cases were finalized and barely six offenders were convicted. “…though the Supreme Court had directed (March 2013) to finalize the cases within six months, the pending cases had not been finalized; the pendency period of these cases (of PC&PNDT Act) ranged from one to 12 years,” said CAG.
Skewed sex ratio has remained a major concern in Gujarat. Census 2001 revealed that the state had 878 girls per 1,000 boys in 0-6 age group. This was the first decline recorded in five years where the child sex ratio dipped below 890. In 2009, Gujarat recorded child sex ratio of 905 after which it remained steady at 902 in 2010, 901 in 2011, 902 in 2012 and 901 in 2013.
The 2014 report shows that Amreli in Gujarat recorded the sharpest decline of 87 births recording 846 girls born 1,000 boys.