[Answered] India’s ‘missing girls’ are a result of parental preference borne out of a complex socio-cultural mindset. Analyze. Also highlight the steps the government has taken to improve sex ratio. (GS-1)

There has been falling sex ratio in the past decade. New data from the Civil Registration System of the Registrar General of India points to the hardening of the pattern, with a fall in sex ratio at birth from 898 girls to 1,000 boys in 2013, to 887 in 2014. The same depressing trend has been observed from the Census figures of 2001 and 2011.

This trend of ‘Missing girls’ is result of various factors of which the socio-cultural mindset is one of the most prominent.
• India has inherited the cultural legacy of strong son-preference.
• Patri-locality, patri-lineage and patriarchal attitudes manifest in women and girls having subordinate position in the family, discrimination in property rights and low-paid or unpaid jobs.
• Women are perceived as burdens: Women’s work as cooking, cleaning and caring is treated as non-work.
• System of dowry: This system has resulted in perceiving the birth of a son as an opportunity for upward mobility while the birth of a daughter is believed to result in downward economic mobility.
• System of marriage: While men are considered as bringing wealth as well as responsible for taking care of elderly members in the family women are considered as ones who belongs to other family after marriage.
Steps taken by government to improve sex ratio:
• Pre-conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex Selection) Act in 1994 – it prohibits sex selection, before and after conception, and regulates prenatal diagnostic techniques
• Dowry prohibition act– abolishes dowry.
• Under the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) and within its umbrella the Reproductive and Child Health Programme, many interventions have been launched to improve sex ratio
• Janani Suraksha Yojana has been in place to ensure no child and mother dies during pregnancy and birth
• Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao campaign for ensuring the safety of girl child and promoting education for girls
• ApniBeti, apna dhan yojana is aimed at ensuring that girls parents have enough money for marriage and education of their child.
Other initiatives:
• POCSO e-Box: It is a simple and easy facility for children or any adult to register complaints of child sexual abuse or harassment.
• Khoya Paya portal: To report missing girl cases
• Mahil e-Haat: This online portal helps in economic empowerment of women by providing a platform to sell products online

Thus to fight the conundrum of declining sex ratio government has adopted a multi-prong approach. Declining sex ratio in even progressive states as TN, it clearly points to need to change the outlook towards girl. Apart from stricter implementation of laws and effective implementation of schemes awareness, support of NGOs could be taken in changing the mindset from considering women as burden to that as considering women as wealth.


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