God, luck and poverty are some of the reasons for the skewered sex ratio in Delhi. Not in that order, though.
And these odd reasons have been attributed by 89 private hospitals and maternity homes that were served show-cause notices by the Delhi government for recording sex ratios at birth lower than 800.
Delhi’s sex ratio -- the number of girls born for every thousand boys – is 898:1000, the same as the national average.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) considers 1020 boys against 1000 girls to be the natural ratio.God and fate seem to be kinder to girls at top government hospitals in Delhi, shows data from May.
At the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), 108 girls and 91 boys were born in May, which put the sex ratio 1,186. At Safdarjung, the sex ratio was 987, at Lok Nayak hospital it was and 896 at Guru Teg Bahadur Hospital.
India’s Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques Act bans sex determination of an unborn child because it can used for selective abortions, which had led to India’s child sex ratio declining from 945 in 1981 to 927 in 2001 and 919 in 2011.
“Sex determination is a reality in Delhi, which is why the city has a skewed sex ration. Since AIIMS is government-run, no such hanky-panky can happen. This is the reason we have a nearly equal numbers of girls and boys being born at the hospital,” said Dr Alka Kriplani, head of the department of obstetrics and gynaecology at AIIMS.
Among the three hospitals that blamed skewed sex ratio on the “almighty” was Rashi Medical Centre in West Delhi’s Dwarka, with a sex ratio of 571. With a sex ratio of 789, Garg Medical Centre in Paschim Vihar said, “We have no control over this, it’s God’s selection”. UK Nursing Home from Vikas Puri, with a sex ratio of 714, stated, “the birth of male/female is purely an act of God and the nursing home has no role to play in it”.
“Usually, women go for delivery to the same hospitals or maternity homes where they get their ante-natal check-ups done, so it is important to keep an eye on clinics and hospitals with low sex ratios. It is, of course, possible that the hospitals are not doing sex-selective abortions, but the data still helps us to identify neighbourhoods where such practices are taking place,” a Delhi government official said.
Five hospitals attributed their low sex ratio to “natural processes”. These included Shri Ram Singh Hospital in East Krishna Nagar (sex ratio of 500), Jain Child and Meternity Home in Shalimar Bagh (514), Tyagi Hospital in Azadpur area (517), Saroj Hospital at Madhuban Chowk (767) and Gupta Medical Centre in Paschim Vihar (731).
Explaining the “natural phenomenon” at play at Shri Ram Singh Heart Hospital, which also runs Ashok Nursing Home where the deliveries take place, proprietor Dr Ashok Singh said, “If you ask for reasons, it could be anything from the weather, atmosphere or the lifestyle. The people in this area are very poor and perhaps the sex ratio is influenced by women eating less or working the whole day to earn their living.”
“We promptly report all our births to the MCD, so there is no scope for manipulation. The sex ratio at our hospital is naturally low,” said Dr Singh.
Others blamed chance. Fourteen hospitals said that their low sex ratio was because of coincidence. Sarthak Medical Centre in Palam, which had a sex ratio of 550, said, “We do not have any control over the birth, it is purely coincidental”.
Delhi health secretary Dr Tarun Seem said it was “very difficult” to get a sex selective abortion in Delhi as the rules are followed strictly.
“The situation is now getting better and Delhi has shown a healthy improvement in the sex ratio,” Seem added.
From 2014 to 2015, Delhi’s sex ratio has increased by 2 points.