Gurgaon may rate the highest in Haryana when it comes to literacy, but the district surprisingly has a near-abysmal sex ratio at birth when compared to its rural counterparts.
According to data released by the state government two days ago, the situation has gone from bad to worse over the last few years. Contributing to the shock value is the fact that Gurgaon – often referred to as India’s fastest growing city – reported a worse sex ratio at birth (852) than predominantly rural and less literate districts such as Mewat (913) and Sirsa (914) in 2015.
Sex ratio at birth is defined as “the number of girls born per 1,000 boys born”. It is considered a more accurate indicator of prenatal sex determination than child sex ratio, which is the number of girls to every 1,000 boys in the 0-6 age group.
The 2011 census states that while the literacy rate of Gurgaon was 84.7%, the highest in Haryana, it was 54.08% and 68.82% at Mewat and Sirsa respectively. During the official release of the state-wide figures on January 16 in Chandigarh, where chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar praised health department authorities for effecting an upward trend in sex ratio at birth for the first time in 10 years, scant notice was paid to the fact that Gurgaon had not shown any improvement in this regard over the previous year in absolute terms.
The number of females in Gurgaon was 852 (to 1,000 males) in 2015 as well as 2014, ranking above just two other districts — Rewari (826) and Mohindergarh (818) – in the state. As per the same data, the district’s sex ratio at birth had fared a little better at 857 in 2013.
While Gurgaon trumped five other districts in 2014 despite reflecting the same figures, it had done better than 10 others the previous year. The female sex ratio at birth stood at 840, 850 and 841 in 2012, 2011 and 2010 respectively.
So, does this data belie the conventional notion that education effects social progress? Some experts couldn’t agree more.
“Rich people often try to determine the gender of the child. In order to restrict the family due to professional reasons, some working couples often opt for sex selective abortion,” said a doctor at a private hospital on the condition of anonymity.
However, Gurgaon chief medical officer (CMO) Dr Ramesh Dhankar had a different take on the issue. “Though we have come a long way, the problem persists to an extent. We crossed 940 in December last year, which is an achievement. Sex-determination tests are not carried out in Gurgaon. People get it done in the bordering states,” he said.
District health officials said the authorities have been conducting raids in accordance with the Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (PCPNDT) Act, 1994 in order to check the rising number of illegal prenatal sex determination cases. “We conducted nine raids from July last year till date across Gurgaon district.
Of these, six raids turned out to be successful, and the culprits were apprehended,” said Dr Saryu Sharma, deputy civil surgeon, Gurgaon general hospital (erstwhile civil hospital).
So, why does the region still perform abysmally in this regard? “Cities like Gurgaon will always be worse that Muslim-dominated Mewat, where people do not opt for abortion due to religious reasons,” Sharma replied.