Thursday, April 28, 2011

Census 2011& India - 1.08 million missing girls (additionally during 2005-11) - a state wise analysis

In continuation of my article dated April 23, 2011 wherein in, I did try and highlight the basic salient features of population growth in India as per Census 2011 with specific reference to Child Sex Ratio (CSR) and a case study of Andhra Pradesh by examining the trends in CSR by doing a District-wise analysis, I will now try and calculate the number of girls which should have been there as per the CSR of 2001 census vis-a-vis what's there as per the CSR of 2011 census. In other words, the lesser number of Girls born as a result of decline in CSR during the decade.

It is to be kept in the mind that CSR is for the age-group of 0-6 years of children and thus, CSR will cover all the children born from 2005 onwards during the decade. Children born during 2001-05 will get reflected in the Sex Ratio of Population aged 7 & above. While the Sex ratio is available for population aged 7 & above and so is the actual number of persons aged 7 & above in the Census 2011, it will be difficult to segregate the proportion (& actual number) of children in the age group 6-10 years i.e. those who were born during 2001-05 and the CSR for children in the age-group 6-10 out of the overall population sex ratio aged 7 & above (which gets affected by otherfacors such as migration, gender based longivity among others) whose Sex Ratio is a part of over all CSR, based on the preliminary data of Census 2011 at this stage. I will, thus, confine myself to the CSR of chldren aged 0-6 years and the actual number of children in the age group 0-6 years which is available in the Census 2011 which means these are the children born from 2005 onwards.

Steps involved in calculating "the Missing Girls":
1. Calculate the point difference between CSR of 2001 and 2011. It shows the decline/rise in the CSR during the decade. For e.g. refer row 1 of the table below. The All-India CSR in 2001 was 927 girls for every 1000 boys born and it came down to 914 in 2011. It means a decline in CSR by 13 points or -13.
2. We know the number of girls in the age-group 0-6 years actually born (refer GIRLS column). We also know the number of boys actually born in the age-group 0-6 years (refer BOYS column) in 2011. Now, we calculate the number of girls that should have been born is the CSR of 2001 would have continued as it is i.e by taking a CSR of 927 and calculate the difference between this number and the number of girls actually born.

In other words, the simple formula followed is :
Number of missing Girls (taking 2001 as a base)= (CSR of 2011- CSR of 2001) /1000 * actual number of Boys (0-6age group)
for e.g. All-India = (914-927)/1000*82952135 = -1078378
It means that 1,078,378 girls are lesser due to the decline in CSR by 13 points during the decade 2001-11 for children in the age-group 0-6 years i.e. born from 2005 onwards during the decade. I call this as additional missing girls as the total number of missing girls if we calculate based on the decline in CSR from the natural Sex Ratio at Birth(SRB) of about 945 girls for every 1000 boys (or 105.9 boys for every 100 new born girls), the number of missing girls would swell to 2,571, 516 (or 2.6 millions) on a base of 82952135 boys born from 2005 onwards!

The number of 'missing girls' is calculated State/UT wise in a similar manner for all the States/UTs based on the Census 2011 figures and are placed here in ascending orders starting with the State where the number of missing girls is the largest.
UP with 266,104 has the largest number of missing girls followed by Maharashtra with 204668 missing girls and Rajasthan with 145086 missing girls.

A noteworthy feature is the improvement in CSR among the States which had the lowest CSR during the Census 2001 such as Punjab, Haryana, Chandigarh, Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh. While they continue to have the lowest CSR (in terms of actual CSR) in 2011, the trend seems to have reversed positively in favour of Girl child. For e.g. the CSR of Punjab has improved by 48 points fr0m 798 in Census 2001 to 846 during the Census 2011 resulting in 'net addition' of 76477 girls over the Boys born from 2005 onwards. It might be due to number of factors - the CSR was so low that it had caught the national attention and the State Authorities were forced to implement the PNDT Act with some seriousness. There also was better monitoring and a general awareness perhaps was created that sex detection is illegal and punishable offence. However, I am worried that such positivity in CSR among the States with lowest CSR should not be a result of number fudging!

Lets hope the implementation of PNDT Act improves all over the country. It is a powerful Act and we have seen the positive outcome in Hyderabad as a result of strict implementation of PNDT Act.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Andhra Pradesh -78,847 girls aborted illegally during 2005-11 & 1,38,781 during 1991-2011 - Census 2011

Those of us concerned with the rapidly falling Sex Ratio (SR) as a result of rampant Sex Selective Abortions (SSA) had been waiting for the Census 2011 for some time. The provisional totals were announced recently and the State wise details for 27 States/UTs are made available on the Census website till yesterday while the data for the remaining is under process for the remaining.
As per the provisional population totals of the Census 2011, India’s population was 1210 million (121 crore) as of March 1, 2011 and grew by 17.64% during the decade 2001-11 or at an annual average growth rate of 1.64% which is a slight deceleration from the annual growth rate of 1.95% during the previous decade. In fact, the rate of growth of population has been consistently declining from 1961 reaching a peak of 2.22% per annum during the decade 1971-81. Another feature of the present decade is that it is the first decade (with the exception of 1911-21) which has added lesser population compared to the previous decade.
India is the second most populated country after China whose population as on November 1, 2010 was 1341 million (134 crore) and is expected to take over China by 2028-29! As per the UN estimates, the world population grew at an annual rate of 1.23% during the decade 2001-11. China registered a growth rate of 0.53% per annum as against Indian rate of 1.64%.
In absolute terms, the population of India increased by more than 181 million (18 crore) during the decade 2001-11 out of which the total number of children in the age-group 0-6 years is 158.8 million. It means that 88% of the increase during the decade has been contributed by the child population in the age-group 0-6 years and the rest due to the rising life expectancy. The actual number of children in this age-group actually came down by 5 million when compared to 163.8 million children in 0-6 age-group during the decade 1991-2001 and the reduction is an indication of a fall in fertility. While it may be a positive sign overall, the fall in fertility is more pronounced among the girls as more than two third of the absolute decline is on account of falling numbers among girl children and this skewed decline is a cause of concern. The maximum decline in the absolute numbers has been in Uttar Pradesh followed by Andhra Pradesh.
Census of India does not contain data on the Sex Ratio at Birth (SRB). The closest approximation is Child Sex Ratio (CSR) which is the sex ratio of children in the age group of 0-6 years and which will get affected by the SRB and any distortions in the Sex Ratio in the age-group 0-6 years due to deaths on account of malnutrition and child neglect, if any. However, most of the decline in CSR and the associated trend can be attributed to fall in SRB. It is noticed that CSR has worsened, in 27 States/UTs (including AP) and has registered an improvement (in favour of girl child) only in 8 States/UTs. However, the overall trend is towards increasing masculanity with 52.64% of the children in age group 0-6 years are now concentrated in States/UTs with CSR of 915 or less as against only 26% during the decade 1991-2001 and the percentage of children in CSR of 951 and above having reduced to 8.16% as against 28.02 % during the previous decade.
Andhra Pradesh scenario
The total population of AP as on March 1, 2011 is 84.66 million (8.47 crore) and the increase during the decade of 2001-11 was 8.45 million (0.85 crore). The change in decadal growth rate was -3.49% (it came down from 14.59% during the decade 1991-2001 to 11.1% during the decade 2001-11) and the average annual growth rate during 2001-11 decade is 1.06% which is the sixth lowest in the country and the second lowest after Kerala if one excludes the smaller States/UTs. This is an impressive decline in fertility and as a result, the share of AP’s population in the Country has come down from 7.41% during 1991-2001 to 7% during 2001-11 decade. The total number of children in the age-group of 0-6 years during the decade is 8.643 million which is actually more than the population growth.
Child Sex Ratio (CSR) trends in AP and implications
The focus of this article is Child Sex Ratio in AP and emerging trends therein. The overall CSR for AP is

The overall Child Sex Ratio in AP fell by 18 points (ie 18 girls are less for every 1000 boys born) during the decade. The CSR for the country fell by 13 points from 927 in 2001 to 914 in 2011 with J&K accounting for the sharpest fall by 82 points.
Let’s look at the District wise CSR for 2011 census and it’s comparison with 1991 and 2001 census. Figures in () show the relative ranking of the District from the bottom i.e. the District with the lowest CSR will be ranked 1. It also implies that lower the rank, the better is the CSR of the District. For 2011 census, Warangal with 912 CSR is ranked 1 and has the worst CSR and West Godavari District with a CSR of 970 is ranked 23 and has the best CSR.
Lets examine some of the emerging trends:
Districts where CSR has worsened sharply and are cause of seriou concern- In the above table, the Districts are placed in descending order of decline in CSR during the decade ie Warangal had the maximum decline in CSR by 43 points during the decade 2001-11 followed by YSR District (32 points), Ananthpur (31 points) and Nalgonda (30 points). Districts where the decline is more than 20 points are the ones where natural Sex Ratio at birth has been tempered with due to sex selective abortions and there are 11 such Districts. And these are the Districts where the District administration especially the District Appropriate Authority (DM&HO) should be pro-active in implementing the PNDT Act effectively and ensuring the Sex Selective Abortions are contained.

Learning from Hyderabad – a success story of containing the falling SRB

A heartening feature has been the case of Hyderabad. It had the dubious distinction of being the District with the lowest CSR during the 2001 Census and had a decline of 21 points during the decade 1991-2001. However, a drive was taken up during 2005-06 when the authorities implemented the PNDT (Pre Natal Diagnostic (prevention of misuse) Act 1994 vigorously & sincerely and could actually reverse the trend of falling Sex Ratio at Birth during these years in Hyderabad.

The ‘Hyderabad model” was discussed and appreciated in Parliament on May 19, 2006. The hangover of the legacy of stricter implementation of the Act perhaps continued in the subsequent years too albeit a bit subdued and the decline in SRB could be contained to a major extent. As a result, the decline in CSR in Hyderabad during the decade 2001-11 has been the second lowest in the State (only West Godavari District has a better containment of the decline) and there are nine more Districts which have slipped lower than Hyderabad in terms of falling CSR. There is a lesson in this. It proves that the Act, if implemented properly and in a universal manner in the District will yield result and can effectively contain the falling SRB by preventing the SSA.

Additional missing girls during the decade 2001-11
If one takes 2001 CSR as the base and calculate what should have been the number of girls by taking the actual number of boys as per the Census 2011 as base ( decline in points (-18) during the decade 2001-11 which is lesser number of girls for every 1000 boys and multiplying it by the actual number of boys in the age-group of 0-6 years as per 2011 census (44,48,330)), a total of 78,873 girls have gone missing additionally during the decade. The actual CSR does get affected by the deaths occurring in the age-group of 0-6 years but empirically, it is observed that the distortionary affect will be minimal.

The maximum decline in terms of absolute number has been in Warangal (7280 missing girls) followed closely by Ananthpur (6768), Nalgonda (5579), YSR District (5237), Chittoor (5157), Mahboobnagar (5192) & Kurnool (5062). And, this is worrisome. These numbers are arrived at basing the CSR of 2001 which itself had declined during the decade 1991-2001. The actual decline by considering 1991 CSR would be 1,38,781 ! I have deliberately not considered the "Natural SRB" for calculating the missing girls for AP as most of the Districts, fortunately had a CSR which was higher (& better) than the natural SRB and the purpose is to calculate the actual number of girls gone missing due to Sex Selective Abortions for which the CSR of 1991 or 2001 are more appropriate.

The macro-level browsing of CSR and a ‘feel good factor’ on account of AP’s CSR being higher than some of the Northern States hides the real alarming picture and which is that girl foetuses are getting aborted blatantly due to Sex Selective abortions in AP (as is happening elsewhere).

It comes as no surprise that the Districts which have shown the worst decline in CSR are the ones where the growth of Ultra-sound Scan Machine has been the most spectacular. For instance, the number of registered scan machines increased by 146% in Mahboobnagar District during the period 2004-08. A similar trend is observed in Nalgonda, Ananthpur, YSR District, Warangal and Karimnagar. It’s time, I strongly feel that the District Appropriate Authorities must get cracking on Ultrasound Scan units who are not following the provisions of PNDT Act and are indulging in sex detection leading to SSA.

There's another shock in waiting. The provisional figures of the Census for Urban Areas is due shortly and noticing the trend of declining CSR in some of the districts which have prominent cities, it if feared that Urban Child Sex Ratio would be worse in the case of Warangal, Kadapa town, Ananthpur Town, Kurnool, Karimnagar Town, Nalgonda Town, Tirupathi & Chittoor Town & Visakhapatnam city. The CSR for Hyderabad city will not change from the one noticed in provisional Census 2011 since the District and the City are co-terminus.

It thus does not come as a surprise that the Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh, feels that female feticide is a matter of 'national shame" and an indictment of the social values. He shared these thoughts while interacting with Bureaucrats on the occasion of ‘Civil Services day’ on April 21, 2011 in Vigyan Bhawan, New Delhi. He has expressed his serious concern that female feticide continue to happen in most parts of the country and exhorted the civil society to take up a national campaign to counter the bias against the girl child.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Giving alms to beggars - an act of charity? - think twice

One can’t miss the sight of physically challenged beggars sitting outside the Central Secretariat Metro Station as one comes out towards the Krishi Bhawan exit gate every morning between 9 till about 10.30 am. One also can’t miss the large number of office goers especially ladies, religiously putting coins, in the begging bowl and going away pleased! I often wonder what is the psychology of a person who gives alms? Is it a belief that he/she is trying to help someone needy who is incapable and can’t make his/her living otherwise? Or if I am rude, is it ‘playing god’ that he/she will earn extra brownies with this act of almsgiving? Is it a part of religious rites or practices? Have we thought of the consequences of giving alms and making someone dependent on such almsgivers? Is the money being used for his livelihood or is it frittered away? Or seeking alms is just one of the front fa├žades of few organized groups who have flourishing businesses of drugs and flesh trade?

It is in this background that I would like to highlight some of the salient features of a very detailed socio-economic profiling of alms seekers, I had undertaken in Hyderabad, while I worked as District Collector, with the assistance of an NGO – Hyderabad Council for Human Welfare (HCHW) ( ) in 2005, some of the findings of which were startling. I was District Collector of Hyderabad, the State capital of Andhra Pradesh during 2004-06. It was during this period that I used to notice a particular aged lady begging at one of the prominent traffic islands every day.

Thinking that nobody would opt for begging as a profession in the first place and that they must have resorted to it as a last resort, I wanted to find a meaning socio-economic rehabilitation of those alms seekers who wish to come of this profession and live in somewhat more dignified manner. I wish to make it clear that I, at no point, had the idea of making Hyderabad ‘beggar free’. There weren’t any formal records/data on the number of beggars or regarding their socio-economic profiling in Hyderabad and was not surprised. The only data available was pertaining to 1994 when according to a survey conducted by the Social Welfare Department, there were a total of 4,428 beggars in the city of Hyderabad.

A study was entrusted to HCHW to take up a detailed socio-economic profiling of beggars in Hyderabad in 2005. The objective was

• To arrive at an exact number of beggars; to ascertain the magnitude of problem and the spatial mapping of beggars.

• To study the profile of beggars in terms of demographic and geographical details (including age and gender profile).

• To study the living and working conditions of beggars with emphasis on the kind of exploitations (including physical) and related health hazards.

• To understand the economics behind begging and to ascertain what percentage of begging is organized and how does it operate?

• To explore and evolve possibilities of rehabilitation by effectively involving them to find out mutually workable alternatives.

How was the survey carried out?

HCHW formed teams of its staff and volunteers who undertook the actual head count and detailed survey of each of the beggars in the city. The location of beggars is more or less pre-determined and it was not difficult to undertake this survey. It took about two months time and we are reasonably sure that about 90% of all beggars got covered in this survey. The number of beggars is a dynamic figure and keeps changing on a daily basis. However, the survey showed up the trends in beggary and the policy implications in the process.

Salient features of the survey – A total of 10,466 beggars existed at the time of conducting the survey. As seen, 65% are aged 36 years and above while 12.5% are less than 18 years of age. 22% of them are in the age group of 19-35 years. In terms of caste composition, 52% of all beggars belong to Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes and it becomes 82% if Backward Castes also are included. Of the total, about 56% are males and 44% are females. 78.6% of all beggars were Hindus while 15% were Muslims and 5% Christians. Almost 50% of all beggars were married, 22.5% unmarried (mainly children), 18.7% widower/widow, 4.7% deserted and about 4.8% divorcees.

Physical features

44% of the beggars are able bodied ie who are physically fit and otherwise are capable of doing physical work, 25 % are old aged (and not able to do physical work), 14% are physically challenged and 5% are mentally challenged while 10% are diseased/chronically ill. It implies that almost half of the beggars are physically fit and are capable of doing work. While 65.3% indulge in direct soliciting, 7.8% seek alms by singing, 6.1% by exhibiting the picture of gods and about 7% by exhibiting their wounds or physical disabilities.

Place of stay

while 59.2% have some sort of accommodation with them (thatched huts or some have pucca huts too), 40.8% are homeless. Of those who don’t have any kind of accommodation, 44% stay in religious places (mosques, temples and church complexes), 33% take shelter on footpaths, 8% stay in railway stations and 7% in Bus bays and about 4 % in the parks. If we look at the period for which they are in this profession, only 30% are into begging for less than 3 years (recent entrants), while 45.6% are in this profession for a period ranging from 4-15 years and about 25% are more than 15 years old into begging. It implies that once entered, a person remains as beggar and there hardly are any viable alternatives for them to switch over to another profession and this makes the task of identifying an alternative sustainable option very difficult.

Income earned

While 25.6% earn less than Rs 25 per day, 55.3% earn between Rs 26-50 per day and about 19% earn more than Rs 50 per day ($ 1.2 per day). In other words, 21% earn more than Rs 2500 per month (about 60$ per month or 2$ per day) while about 50% earn between Rs 900 to Rs 2500 per month (21$-60$ per month) and 30% earn less than Rs 900 per month. It implies a net average total income of about Rs 15 crores per month or Rs 180 crores per annum (3.5$ million per month or 42 $ million per annum!!).

It is rather surprising to note that only about 49% of the income is spent on the food and shelter (32% & 17% respectively) and that 51% of the income earned by beggars is spent on entertainment (cinema, visit to commercial sex workers) and habits (such as drugs, smoking and alcohol)! Now, will all of you, who believe that giving alms is an act of charity, realize that 51% of your charity is used for entertainment, unless of course you believe that the beggar has an equal right to enjoy life this way!

Children in Beggary

A total of 1302 children were found begging out of the total 10466 beggars in Hyderabad, almost 50% of whom are girls. While 6.6% children are less than 5 years old (they are mainly used to display in arms while begging by adults), a pre-dominant 55.5% are aged 6-12 years. These are children who seek alms on their own, seen alone while begging so as to maximize their earnings. 11% are aged 13-15 and 27% are aged 15-18 years.

In terms of earnings, 41% earn less than Rs 25 per day while 47% earn between Rs 26-50 per day and only 13% earn more than Rs 50 per day implying that the average income earned by children is less than that of an adult beggar.

80% of the children in begging have never been to school and among those who have been to schools at some level, 85% went upto primary level while only 5% could go to high school level. For those who went to schools, the gap in studies (discontinued from schooling) is less than an year for 26% of these children while the gap was 2-5 years for 61% of those who attended school at some point and was more than 61% for about 13% of such children.

When asked why these children chose to be in begging, 45% mentioned “freedom” (to do what they wish and freedom roam around without being confined to the house or studies) as the main reason. Another 32% mentioned “basic needs fulfillment” as the reason they chose this profession (access of easy money to meet their needs of hunger and habits) and 10% think that they can “participate in decision making” (by virtue of they being earning or may be the only earning member of the family).

Girl children in beggary - The most vulnerable lot

A total of 175 girl children are in beggary and 75% of them are migrants (from places in Andhra Pradesh other than Hyderabad and came to Hyderabad in search of livelihood). 63% (110 numbers) are unmarried and 28.6% (50 numbers) are married. The remaining 18% are divorcees/deserted or widows. Only 35% (61 numbers) stay in houses while the remaining 65% (114 numbers) have no shelter and have to take refuge in bus shelters, railway stations, religious places and footpaths and are the most vulnerable lot and often subject of exploitation of all kinds. It comes as no surprise thus that almost all them are abused.

When asked to describe the abuser, 44% are exploited by adult street elements, 14% by adolescents boys/youth, 18% by rickshaw/auto drivers and 7.4% by police!. 13% of these girls admitted being abused by almost all of these categories.

What’s worrisome is that 67% of these girls (117 numbers) are not aware of HIV/AIDS and have thus not used any protection while being exploited by these elements and these are sitting ducks for infecting HIV.

Rule position regarding Beggary

Begging is governed by the Andhra Pradesh Prevention of Begging Act 1977 which makes begging in public places an offence and lays down that "No person shall beg in a public place after commencement of this Act and it shall be an offence punishable under this Act, if any under Section 27 may arrest without warrant any person who is found begging in contravention of Section 3. On conviction, be punished with imprisonment for a term whichshall not be less than six months but shall not be more than two years or with fine which may extend to two hundred rupees or with both. For a second time, is convicted again he shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than three years but shall not be more than five years."

The Act defines beggary as –

– soliciting or receiving aims for one’s own subsistence or for the subsistence of his dependants includes allowing a child in his custody to solicit or receive aims.

– Soliciting or receiving aims, whether or not under any preference as singing, dancing, fortune telling, performing tricks or offering any article for sale;

Exposing or exhibiting the object, any sore, wound, injury, deformity or disease

– Having no ostensible means of subsistence & wandering about or in such condition or manner as makes it likely that the person doing so exists by soliciting or receiving alms

– Allowing one self or a child or an animal to be used as an exhibit for the purpose of soliciting or receiving alms

– Entering on any private premises for the purposes of soliciting or receiving alms.

Similar Acts exist in other States too such as Delhi & Maharashtra. The Authorized officer under the Act is the Police Officer or any other such officer as authorized by the Government.

However, there are many issues with the Act. On the one side, the implementabiliy part of the Act is highly doubtful and has rarely been used. And on the other side, a more basic and important question is why is begging an offence? What is the logic of having such an outdated and draconian Act and the rationale behind it? Is it because, begging is not a pleasant sight? And if seeking alms is an offence, what about those who give alms to such beggars and are an equal if not bigger partners in crime? I also wonder why do certain cities, including Delhi, from time to time take up campaigns to make a city “beggar free” and it is not a coincidence that most of such occasions coincide with a major international event such as a visit of a very high ranking foreign delegation or an international even such as the recently held Commonwealth Games? And has the Government been able to come out with viable sustainable income generating alternatives for these beggars? What are the alternatives with the policy makers? My first point of argument is a bit theoretical and deals with the question of why an alternative? If it is just for the sake of ‘removing certain visual irritants from the sight of well to do individual’, I am against any such intervention. By a very conservative estimate, there are a total of about 10 million beggars in the country and I presume that most of them were driven into this profession as a last resort when they could not find any other means of livelihood and once entered, they continued due to the lack of any viable exit alternatives. While compromise to self-dignity (that’s what we think as an outsider) may be a force to reckon with so far as their desire to move to an alternative is concerned, the income they earn, the freedom associated with the profession and a feeling of ‘easy life’ are something which will be difficult to ensure in any alternative profession. And for such plans to rehabilitate them, we need to concentrate only on that segment among them who are willing to come out of it on their own. It is therefore important that we do not envisage a grand macro level intervention strategy trying to make a city ‘clean’ (‘beggar free’) and concentrate on the segment which feels it needs to come out of this profession. In the specific case of Hyderabad, we tried intervening in the case of girls beggars, especially those who were most vulnerable by bringing them to some of the rehabilitation centers run by NGOs and providing them alternative means of livelihood. Some of them had been abused for so long that their psyche was wounded greatly and it took these NGOs a while before they could bring the smile on them. Another danger is that because most of these beggars don’t have proper address nor proof of identity, they are left out of most of the Government run welfare schemes such as Public Distribution System (PDS) of foodgrains, old age pension schemes, widow pension schemes and so on. Paradoxically, this is the most vulnerable section, in need of such schemes. With the much hyped Unique Identification Cards Project (UID) depending upon ‘State Partners’ to provide the information of beneficiaries, there is every likelihood that most of these most deserving people and among most neglected will continue to be left out of any meaningful Government intervention strategy. They are the most voiceless, neglected and excluded lot and continue to be so.