[Following editorial has been published in The Hindu on 4th February 2016. Read through it and try to answer the questions that follow. Please do not copy and paste answers. The objective of this exercise is to get you in the groove of answer-writing. Try to write in your own words. Don't hesitate to write in a bulleted-format, if you are uncomfortable in writing in paragraph form.]
Union Minister for Women and Child Development Maneka Gandhi’s clarifications over her remarks on the existing ban on sex-selective abortions should put the focus back on the real issues. There are three aspects to the proposal that she put forth at a conference in Jaipur: establish the sex of the foetus when a pregnancy is detected; tell the mother about it and register the fact in public records; and ensure that deliveries happen only in institutions and not at home. This twin strategy of tracking sex-determined foetuses and requiring institutional deliveries is expected to ensure that female babies are not aborted, or killed at birth. While this idea might seem persuasive, like many technological fixes it betrays a worrying lack of awareness of social realities. The very attempt to record the status of the foetus involves the obvious risk of exposing women to undue psychological and social pressure to abort female foetuses. Two, such an intrusion by the state into a woman’s personal-biological space is unwelcome, even Orwellian. That such suggestions are being floated — no matter how quickly they are withdrawn in the face of criticism — is an indication of India’s persisting inability to address the problem of female foeticide, and the continuum of social ills that this practice reflects.
At the moment, there are few incentives for medical technicians, apart from public interest, to withhold information from families on the gender of the foetus. And when such violations have come to light, prosecution has been indifferent. Maharashtra is believed to have come down severely on errant doctors and clinics, which is significant given the likely impact the State’s large population could have on child sex ratios. The record of Punjab and Haryana, with a high prevalence of sex-selective abortions, also points to a modicum of enforcement. But there is a long way to go. After all, where traditional cultural norms dictate a strong preference for boys, recourse to medical technologies could well reinforce socially detrimental personal choices. Clearly, the emphasis ought to be on the reversal of India’s adverse sex ratio among children in the 0-6 year age group. On a national average, the number of girls for every 1,000 boys in this segment of the population dipped to 918 in the 2011 decennial population Census, with more disturbing regional variations. The corresponding figures were 927 and 933 in 1991 and 2001, respectively. Notably, Ms. Gandhi’s six-time constituency of Pilibhit in Uttar Pradesh has seen a sharp drop in the child sex ratio in the 2001-2011 inter-Census period. At 940, the figure was above the national average in 2001, but declined dramatically to 912 in the last Census. Pilibhit could easily set an example for the whole country, if only by a scrupulous compliance with the spirit of the Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (PCPNDT) Act, under which any disclosure of the foetal status is a punishable offence.
1.What is sex-selective abortion? Why is it practiced in India? Is/are there any other country/countries where this issue is prevalent?
2. What are various demographic parameters which suggest that sex-selective abortion is prevalent in India?
3. What are the current mechanisms adopted by the government to arrest the issue of sex-selective abortion? Has the government been successful in its endeavours? If yes then how and if no then what are the reasons behind govt's failure?
4. What is the new measure suggested by the WCD Minister to address this issue? In your opinion is the suggested measure ethical and practical?
5. What is sex ratio? How is it measured? Find the trend of India's Sex Ratio after independence.
6. What is Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (PCPNDT) Act? Highlight its salient features.
7. What are various impacts of a skewed sex ratio prevalent in any society?
8. Suggest some practical measures to address the issue of unfavourable sex ratio of India?
9. What is the Sex Ratio of your district and state? What has the local government of your area done to address the issue of skewed ratio (if any)
10. Find out the best 5 and worst 5 states in terms of over all Sex Ratio and Under 6 Sex Ratio.