Tribune News Service
New Delhi, December 13
In worrying signs for India’s gender parity goals, the latest round of National Family Health Survey (NFHS) has revealed negative trends for sex ratio at birth (SRB) in several states that had posted gains in the past.
Highest fall in Dadra and Nagar Haveli
- Sex ratio at birth is a key indicator of son’s preference vis-à-vis daughter
- States with decline in sex ratio at birth among kids born in last five years are Kerala, HP, Bihar, Goa, Maharashtra, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu
- The highest decline of 166 points in SRB over five years has been reported by Dadra and Nagar Haveli
Of the 22 states covered by NFHS-5 so far, eight have shown losses in sex ratio at birth (SRB) defined as the number of female births per 1,000 male births. The SRB is a key indicator of son’s preference vis-à-vis daughters.
States with declines in sex ratio at birth among children born in the last five years (between NFHS-4 conducted in 2015-16 and NFHS-5 conducted in 2019-2020) are Kerala, Himachal Pradesh, Bihar, Goa, Maharashtra, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu.
The highest decline of 166 points in SRB over five years has been reported by Dadra and Nagar Haveli, where female births per 1,000 male births fell from 983 in 2015-16 to 817 in the latest NFHS round.
With a drop of 128 points in SRB over five years (966 in 2015 to 838 in 2020), Goa is the next worst performer, followed by Kerala, which has posted a loss of 96 points – down from 1,047 in 2015 to 951 in 2020.
Himachal Pradesh has witnessed a 62 point decline in SRB from 937 in 2005 to 875 in 2020, followed by 26 point decline in Bihar, 20 points in Meghalaya, 11 points in Maharashtra and eight points in Nagaland.
What’s worrisome is Kerala was the second best performer on SRB after Punjab in NFHS-4 and had posted a gain of 122 points improving its SRB from 925 in NFHS-3 (2005-2006) to 1,047 in NFHS-4 (2015-2016).
Likewise, Meghalaya had gained 102 points in SRB in the last round of NFHS so had Maharashtra which posted a 57 point improvement in female births per 1,000 male births in 2015 as against 2005.
Government sources said they were pinning hopes of positive SRB trends on Punjab and Haryana, two of the six best performing states on this indicator in NFHS-4.
Punjab and Haryana had led the national SRB gains in the last survey. NFHS-5 data for these two states is yet to be released. While Punjab had improved by 122 points — Punjab’s SRB rose from 734 in NFHS-3 to 860 in NFHS-4 — Haryana improved by 74 points going from 762 in 2005 to 836 in 2015.
Top six scorers on SRB in the last round of NFHS were Punjab, Kerala, Meghalaya, Haryana, Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra. Three of these six states have squandered past gains.