The Hollowness of “Beti Padhao, Beti Bachao”: New Study Projects 6.8 Mn Fewer Female Births by 2030


The Hollowness of “Beti Padhao, Beti Bachao”: New Study Projects 6.8 Mn Fewer Female Births by 2030

Illustration: Mitesh Parmar

India’s obsession with the male-child could potentially have dire consequences in the future. “Beti Padhao, Beti Bachao” might be a popular slogan on social media, but the preference for a male child on the ground hasn’t diluted. A new study projects that an estimated 6.8 million fewer female births will be recorded across India by 2030 due to sex-selective abortions.

The study by King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST), Saudi Arabia, and Universite de Paris, France projects that the highest deficits in the birth of girls will occur in the state of Uttar Pradesh.

Researchers have noted that there has been a reported imbalance in the sex ration at birth (SRB) since the 1970s due to the emergence of prenatal sex selection and cultural preference for male babies. The study states that India’s India’s sex ratio imbalance is mostly limited to regional diversity.

Researchers noted that among the 21 Indian states or union territories with high-quality birth data, 17 showed a positive effective of son preference on the SRB, with the highest SRBs concentrated in the most northwestern states or UTs. “We project that the highest deficits in female births will occur in Uttar Pradesh, with a cumulative number of missing female births of 2 million from 2017 to 2030. For the whole of India, summing up the 29 state-level projections, the cumulative number of missing female births during 2017 to 2030 is projected to be 6.8,” the researchers wrote in their study.

The study called for strengthened policies that “advocate for gender equity and the introduction of support measures to counteract existing gender biases”.

The figures have come as no surprise to many. As reported in the Guardian, Anuradha Saxena, a member of the women’s empowerment division for Sikar district, in Rajasthan, said, “It will take time to remove deep-rooted customs and beliefs. Progress is slow and incremental but we are working on making girls valued and cherished instead of being seen as a liability who need a huge dowry to be married off.”

According to the 2011 census, Sikar had the worst child sex ratio of Rajasthan’s 33 districs – 888 girls per 1,000 boys.

The data cited by experts suggests India and China account more than 90% of the 1.2 to 1.5 million missing female births worldwide each year because of selective abortion. India’s skewed ratio of men to women is a product of our societal attitude towards the genders, where boys are seen as breadwinners, and women as a burden across every social class.

Through campaigns across the years, change has been sought and everyone from film stars to cricketers have been roped in to spread the right message. A lot more needs to be done, if this study is an indicator of where we are headed.