The male to female ratio in India has been a matter of concern for a very long time. The number of girl children being born, or surviving after birth has been traditionally less compared to boys. From female infanticide to poor nutrition provided to the girl child, various factors have contributed to this skewed sex ratio.
Traditionally, the north Indian states have been under the scanner for skewed sex ratio, due to rampant sex determination tests and abortion of female foeticide prevalent in those states. It is generally assumed that the sex ratio is better in the southern states compared to states like Punjab and Haryana due to these reasons.
But the data collated by the Registrar General of India using birth and death registrations across the country shows that South Indian states also have worrying sex ratio, and the decline in the ratio in some of the southern states is among the highest.
The data shows that the sex ratio at birth in Andhra Pradesh was 974 girls for 1000 boys in 2007, which has come down to 806 in the year 2016, a huge decline of 168 points. The state now shares the place of lowest sext ration in the country with Rajasthan. The ratio was 1004 for Karnataka in 2007, but it has come down by 108 points to 896 in 2016. Tamil Nadu also has seen a decline of 95 points from 935 to 840 during the same period. Only Kerala sees a reverse of this trend, where the sex ratio improved marginally by 10 points from 944 to 954 during the 2007-2016 period.
The ratio remained stable for Haryana during the decade, which was 860 in 2007 and 865 in 2016, while Punjab an improvement from 820 to 857. The ratio in Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh remained mostly stable, with marginal improvement in the number of girl children born.
The numbers show that while northern states have been vilified for its bad sex ratio earlier, implying the southern states are better in this regard, the reverse was happening on the ground. While the northern states have almost arrested the decline in the ratio, southern states have seen the largest decline in the ratio in a decade. This decline was so large that it cancelled the improvement made in several other states, and the national ratio came down from 903 to 877 during the same period.
This data proves that the gender ratio is not depended on geography and regional issues, as often assumed. This is a much bigger problem that affects most of the country, not just selected states or regions. Therefore, to label it as a regional problem is actually self-defeating and detrimental to society, as it leads to a wrong analysis of the problem. The country needs to work towards fixing systemic issues engraved in the society, not name calling based on region as the problem is no longer a region specific.