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.

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