It is a cruel irony of a fast-growing India that there are fewer and fewer girls as a ratio of total births, as a result of complex factors that include parental preference.
New data from the Civil Registration System of the Registrar General of India point to the hardening of the pattern, with a fall in sex ratio at birth from 898 girls to 1,000 boys in 2013, to 887 a year later.
This trend is consistent with evidence from the Census figures of 2001 and 2011. What is shocking is that the overall data mask the horror of particular districts and panchayats falling well below the national ratio, especially in the zero-to-six years assessment category.
The scourge has, in some cases, prompted the Supreme Court to take note of the situation, and the National Human Rights Commission to ask for an explanation from State governments.
In the understanding of the Centre, which it has conveyed to Parliament, girls stand a poor chance at survival because there is a “socio-cultural mindset” that prefers sons, girls are seen as a burden, and family size has begun to shrink.
The government responded to the silent crisis with the ‘Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao’ campaign, which focusses on the prevention of sex-selective abortions, creation of opportunities for education and protection of girl children. Now that the scheme is set to enter its third year in January, there should be a speedy assessment of its working, particularly in districts with a poor sex ratio where it has been intensively implemented.
A wider assessment needs to be made on why States such as Tamil Nadu with a strong social development foundation have slipped on sex ratio at birth (834), going by the CRS data for 2014.
The cradle baby scheme was started in 1992 in Tamil Nadu to raise the survival chances of girl children by encouraging mothers to give them anonymously for adoption. Yet, the latest numbers, together with the persistence of the programme after 24 years, and 260 babies being abandoned in just one centre over a six-year period, make it clear that policy has achieved little in real terms.
Clearly, there is a need to go beyond slogans and institute tangible schemes. Enforcement of the law that prohibits determination of the sex of the foetus must go hand in hand with massive social investments to protect both immediate and long-term prospects of girls — in the form of cash incentives through registration of births, a continuum of health care, early educational opportunities and social protection. Half-measures cannot produce a dramatic reversal of the shameful national record.
Darknet, also known as dark web or darknet market, refers to the part of the internet that is not indexed or accessible through traditional search engines. It is a network of private and encrypted websites that cannot be accessed through regular web browsers and requires special software and configuration to access.
The darknet is often associated with illegal activities such as drug trafficking, weapon sales, and hacking services, although not all sites on the darknet are illegal.
Examples of darknet markets include Silk Road, AlphaBay, and Dream Market, which were all shut down by law enforcement agencies in recent years.
These marketplaces operate similarly to e-commerce websites, with vendors selling various illegal goods and services, such as drugs, counterfeit documents, and hacking tools, and buyers paying with cryptocurrency for their purchases.
Anonymity: Darknet allows users to communicate and transact with each other anonymously. Users can maintain their privacy and avoid being tracked by law enforcement agencies or other entities.
Access to Information: The darknet provides access to information and resources that may be otherwise unavailable or censored on the regular internet. This can include political or sensitive information that is not allowed to be disseminated through other channels.
Freedom of Speech: The darknet can be a platform for free speech, as users are able to express their opinions and ideas without fear of censorship or retribution.
Secure Communication: Darknet sites are encrypted, which means that communication between users is secure and cannot be intercepted by third parties.
Illegal Activities: Many darknet sites are associated with illegal activities, such as drug trafficking, weapon sales, and hacking services. Such activities can attract criminals and expose users to serious legal risks.
Scams: The darknet is a hotbed for scams, with many fake vendors and websites that aim to steal users’ personal information and cryptocurrency. The lack of regulation and oversight on the darknet means that users must be cautious when conducting transactions.
Security Risks: The use of the darknet can expose users to malware and other security risks, as many sites are not properly secured or monitored. Users may also be vulnerable to hacking or phishing attacks.
Stigma: The association of the darknet with illegal activities has created a stigma that may deter some users from using it for legitimate purposes.
AI, or artificial intelligence, refers to the development of computer systems that can perform tasks that would normally require human intelligence, such as recognizing speech, making decisions, and understanding natural language.
Virtual assistants: Siri, Alexa, and Google Assistant are examples of virtual assistants that use natural language processing to understand and respond to users’ queries.
Recommendation systems: Companies like Netflix and Amazon use AI to recommend movies and products to their users based on their browsing and purchase history.
Efficiency: AI systems can work continuously without getting tired or making errors, which can save time and resources.
Personalization: AI can help provide personalized recommendations and experiences for users.
Automation: AI can automate repetitive and tedious tasks, freeing up time for humans to focus on more complex tasks.
Job loss: AI has the potential to automate jobs previously performed by humans, leading to job loss and economic disruption.
Bias: AI systems can be biased due to the data they are trained on, leading to unfair or discriminatory outcomes.
Safety and privacy concerns: AI systems can pose safety risks if they malfunction or are used maliciously, and can also raise privacy concerns if they collect and use personal data without consent.