In India, during 2001-2011, the State-wise Child Sex Ratio (CSR), has fallen further except in Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana, Mizoram, Gujarat and Tamil Nadu. It would be an interesting fact to mention here that these (above mentioned) same states had recorded significant fall in CSR during 1991-2001. The adverse sex ratio (child) manifests that female infanticide is probably still being practiced across the country.
However, overall sex ratio has registered an improvement over the years but has deteriorated in some states like Gujarat and Bihar. At the International level the figure does not appear promising when compared with US (1025 females per 1000 males); Brazil (1042); Russia (1167); Japan (1055); and Sri Lanka (1034). The Child Sex Ratio is the number of females per 1000 males in 0-6 years age group.
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Cause of Adverse Sex Ratio (ASR)
In India the consistency of adverse sex ratio is primarily because of high preference for sons in our society. There are various reasons, sociological, cultural and religious, for persistence of a male child preference. These reasons are being extensively documented in various academic studies and Government reports.
The reasons for inimical sex ratio has been empirically examined by many researchers. One of them after discussing the origin of dowry came to the conclusion that rapid fertility decline, without having changes in cultural values, has resulted in a deliberate attempt to get ‘rid of girls’.
Gender discrimination stands firmly on the ground simply because of a myth that girl constitutes impoverishment and boy constitutes enrichment. It is with reference to costs and benefits, including the institution of marriage and dowry that daughters appear so expensive.
In addition to the traditional factors, social mobility could be a pressing force behind the skewed sex ratio in India. However, apart from above mentioned factors, there could be a few key economic factors that has neither been examined in detail nor concentrated upon by policy makers in relationship to the consistency in psychology of seeking a male child.
Implications of ASR
There can be many implications of an Adverse Sex Ratio. The connection between sex ratio and crime has been a long standing issue. An elaborate study in Asia, particularly in India and China, undertaken by Hudson and Boer (2005), Dreze and Khera (2000), came to the conclusion that murder rates in India are interconnected with the female-male ratio in population. This summation has been backed by the data showing that districts with higher female – male ratio have lower murder rates.
The scarcity of females could result in a prolonged bachelorhood in the society. The scarcity of bride would generate new waves of migration from neighboring countries that could ultimately result in social tension for these brides with them bring different culture and customs.
In the absence of sufficient migration, keeping in view of the size of India, incidents of human trafficking, forced marriages, kidnapping and other related crime can accrue.
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Conclusion and Recommendation
The Adverse Sex Ratio would certainly be difficult to change without fundamental economic social change that will require a multi-pronged effort. This can only be obtained through the active involvement of Panchayati Raj institutions, local level of social, religious and political leaders, media and entertainment industry, medical professionals and medical associations.
An adverse child sex ratio can negatively influence the growing economy in future because girls are like capital goods; girls directly provide labour force and bear children, who are future labourforce. Keeping in view the cost benefit analysis, it can be emphasized that protection catered to a girl child for first two decades could yield an income stream for the next five decades.
The employment opportunity is the core factor. Only about 30% of women in India are in workforce. Contrary to this data, in Nepal nearly 80% of women constitute the workforce, followed by China (71%), Bhutan (67%), and Russia (57%). The women in workforce are relatively financially independent than those dependent on income of a male member in the family.
The Government should, or rather must, also consider more recruitment of women in police and armed force. According to a survey, women constitute only 3 per cent of police force in India and even a smaller number in Indian army.
The Government may consider, to put an out-of-the-box view, offering complete exemption from income tax for women working in a public or private sectors. As the income earned by women would be spent fully on family expenditure, it will encourage and motivate more women to enter the workforce.