New Delhi: Notwithstanding the Union government’s ambitious Beti Bachao Beti Padhao programme, Indians continue to desire a male child, new government data reveals. Worse, Haryana—notorious for female foeticide—followed by Rajasthan and Punjab continue to top the list of offenders seeking to illegally ascertain the gender of the unborn baby.
According to the latest data available with the ministry of health and family welfare, complaints for illegal communication of the gender in 2017-18 were 158 in Haryana, 112 in Rajasthan and 44 in Punjab.
These have been registered under Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (PC & PNDT) (Prohibition of Sex Selection) Act, 1994.
The violations have only been increasing.
“Union health ministry is also taking care of Beti Bachao Beti Padhao programme now on a pan-India level. Implementation of the PC-PNDT Act is a part of this programme. We are trying our level best to implement the law in full force. The registration of cases and convictions are also increasing gradually because of government’s stringent action and zero tolerance towards the issue," said Preeti Sudan, secretary in the Union ministry of health and family welfare.
According to the quarterly progress reports (QPRs) submitted by states and Union territories to the Union health ministry, till March 2017, authorities filed 2,371 complaints for various violations before criminal courts; in 2017-18 it was 2,735.
To be sure there has been an upsurge in sex determination cases violating the PC-PNDT Act in Maharashtra in recent years. Implementing the Act, government has convicted over 149 offenders in Rajasthan followed by 96 in Maharashtra and 78 in Haryana.
This practice, health ministry officials point out, manifests in a low child-sex ratio. At present, India has a child sex ratio (0-6 years) of 919 females per 1,000 males.
“Generally we blame it on the education of parents when they wish for a baby boy, but unfortunately education, status, caste or creed nothing matters. One has to be mature and enlightened to treat boys and girls equally," said Ranjana Kumari, director, Centre for Social Research.