Sex ratio in Haryana touches 900-mark for first time in 20 years
Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the ambitious “Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao” (B3P) campaign against female foeticide in Panipat in January 2015. Two years later, Haryana, notorious for its skewed sex ratio and patriarchal mindset, saw a historic turnaround.
Sex ratio at birth (SRB) in the State this past year touched the 900-mark for the first time in almost two decades.
“The Prime Minister chose Haryana to launch the Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao campaign. The correction of sex ratio in the State was an uphill task, but we accepted the challenge. The SRB in December 2016 was 914. We have to achieve 950, for which we will need support from our neighbouring States. The good news is that Haryana has shown the way and taken the lead in correcting the sex ratio in the country,” said Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar in a statement to The Hindu.
This improvement was made possible due to effective implementation of the law against illegal sex-determination and female foeticide.
Convergence of all departments at the district-level, coupled with strong political will and co-ordinated efforts by all districts in the State, helped achieve this goal, said officials.
“A special B3P cell was created by the Chief Minister’s Office to monitor the programme. Since convergence of many departments was required, besides the need to deal with the Attorney-General, due to which many cases went to the High Court, it was constantly monitored by the CMO. The Chief Minister held a video-conference with the Deputy Commissioners every month to monitor the progress. A social media group, moderated by the Additional Principal Secretary to the Chief Minister, was created to share and exchange information. This forum enabled healthy competition between different districts and helped them learn from each other’s experiences,” said a senior official associated with the programme.
Enforcing the law
As part of its strategy, the State also initiated an aggressive drive against female foeticide by ensuring stringent implementation of the Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (PCPNDT) Act, 1994, and the Medical Terminal of Pregnancy (MTP) Act. As a result, 391 first information reports were lodged in the State since May 2015 and more than 1,000 offenders arrested. Doctors, paramedics and quacks were found involved in the illegal practice. In a few cases, political leaders were also part of the unholy nexus, including a case each in Karnal and Hisar.
The first positive result of the strict enforcement was visible in December 2015, when the SRB touched the 900-mark for the month for the first time. “The results were encouraging and reinforced what we were doing,” said the official.
Sex-selective abortions are mostly conducted in the fourth month of pregnancy. “We started out in a big way in May and started receiving positive results by December 2015 itself,” the official added.
Creating awareness through regular meetings, street plays and rallies in urban and rural areas was another key aspect of the programme. Those associated with the programme admitted that Haryana girls, including Sakshi Malik, Geeta Phogat, Babita and Deepa Malik, winning laurels for the country in sports helped the cause “tremendously”.
However, the programme now faces new challenges: the mushrooming of illegal ultrasound centres near Haryana in Delhi, Rajasthan, Punjab and Uttar Pradesh. Haryana government officials have conducted 74 inter-State raids over the past year in this connection, with 37 (the maximum) in UP alone.