The girl child must be empowered and the reprehensible practice of female foeticide must stop - that was the message that went out Monday from Manmohan Singh, not just the prime minister of India but also the "proud father" of three daughters.
"I urge every citizen to step forward and help in empowering the girl child in every possible way. The action must begin at home, in our families, in our communities," Manmohan Singh said while addressing a national conference on Save the Girl Child.
"I do not say this as the prime minister of India. I say this as the proud father of three daughters. I wish for every girl in our country what I wish for my own daughters," the prime minister emphasised.
"One of the most inhuman, uncivilised and reprehensible practices is the practice of female foeticide," Manmohan Singh said at the conference organised by the ministry of health and family welfare, and ministry of women and child development.
He said the patriarchal mindset and preference for male children was "compounded by unethical conduct on the part of some medical practitioners assisted by unscrupulous parents who illegally offer sex determination services".
The prime minister said that child sex ratio had been showing a continuous decline over the past four decades.
"The decline in girls per 1,000 boys from 962 in 1981 to 927 in the year 2001 is indeed alarming.
"In fact, the census figures illustrate that it is some of the richer states of the country where the problem is most acute and these States include Punjab which had only 798 girls, Haryana 819, Delhi 868 and Gujarat 883 girls per 1000 boys in the 2001 Census," he added