By Categories: EditorialsTags:

The first Indian Census was carried out in 1871 and it had recorded 5.5 million fewer women and girls than men and boys. A century and two decades later, in 1992, Amartya Sen talked about an estimated deficit of 37 million of them drawing attention to the ‘missing women’ of South Asia.It is now affirmed that it is sex-selective abortions that is leading to shortage of baby girls in India.


An increasingly masculinising population has thus been a continuing historical reality in India. The first censuses by the British administration in colonial India had noted the unusually male-heavy character of the Indian population.

However, in the absence of reliable statistics, it took decades for scholars to make sense of this oddity and to establish that the inflated sex ratios observed in many parts of India since the 19th century was more than an artificial artefact.


One of the contemporary demographic concerns is that of progressively declining number of girls in relation to boys in the age-group of 0-6. This is commonly known as child sex ratio. The last two decades, however, have seen a new era of sex discrimination that differs from the ancient custom of infanticide and neglect of girl children.

The elimination of girls from being born is now driven by prenatal sex-determination tests. It is symptomatic of how the ‘modern’ concept of having fewer children – a smaller family – juxtaposes with ‘traditional’ idea of having sons, the social and geographical spread of which is far wider beyond the traditionally known pockets of adverse child sex ratios.

It was the 1991 decadal census when the disturbing feature of India’s demography,  the declining number of girls vis-à-vis boys in the age-group 0-6, the child sex ratio had once again caught the attention of scholars, activists and policy makers across the country. The Census in that year had published the population figures for the age under 7 for the first time.

The child sex ratio has since been declining even more sharply. In 1991, for the country as a whole, there were 945 girls to 1000 boys, five points short of generally accepted child sex ratio of 950 girls per 1000 boys. The latest 2011 Census (with the child sex ratio of 919) did not bring any relief except that the rate of declining sex ratios had slowed down and the previously dismal sex ratios had ‘improved’ in some parts. For example, some of the worst-hit states in 2001 such as Haryana, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat have now gained in terms of number of girls.

However, this ‘gain’ has its underbelly for even with the improvement, Haryana and Punjab continue to have the CSR of 830 and 846 respectively, which are below the critical 850 mark. More importantly, the 2011 Census shows rapid spread of districts/states with the low CSRs – i.e., Maharashtra (883) and Uttar Pradesh (899).

In general tribal communities are known to be more gender-egalitarian. The 2011 CSR figures seem to defy this. Some of the districts with high tribal population such as Rajouri (Jammu and Kashmir), Karauli (Himachal Pradesh) and Surat in Gujarat do have low CSRs in 2011. Jalgaon and Ahmadnagar in Maharashtra are also no exceptions.

In short, there is a stark regional differentiation in CSR whereby the states located in the southern part of India do not share the abysmally skewed CSR (in favour of baby boys) as compared to the north in general and the north-west in particular.

A note of caution is in order here: the overall pattern may exhibit fewer girls than boys in several areas. However, the processes leading to the regional picture are quite different. The intensity of sex-selective abortions amongst the urban affluent classes in the southern neighbourhoods of New Delhi or Mumbai is nowhere to be matched by the long-term neglect and preferential treatment of sons over daughters in the rural settings of Madhya Pradesh or Rajasthan.

In contrast, Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh may resort to sex-selective abortions. Also, not all daughters are unwanted; sex ratios become increasingly skewed in favour of boys with the numbers of birth – although ironically enough more so for educated mothers.

Most countries around the world have a small imbalance in their juvenile sex ratios for natural reasons i.e., there is a biological tendency for more male than female babies to be born to compensate for the slightly higher risk of mortality among newborn boys. Thus, fewer abortions and retention of male foetuses with improved reproductive health-care facilities; selective undercount of girls and mortality differentials have conventionally been cited as the reasons for fewer numbers of girls as compared to boys in the Indian population. Not only these propositions have been questioned, scholars point out that the recent decline in the number of girls as compared to boys is too sharp to be accounted for by these measures. After much negation, debates and discussions, it has now been affirmed that it is the sex-selective abortions that is leading to shortage of baby girls in India.

Share is Caring, Choose Your Platform!


and stay updated

Related Posts

Recent Posts

  • Darknet


    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.

    Pros :

    • 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.

    Artificial Intelligence


    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.

    Pros :

    • 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.