GURUGRAM: Last year, Haryana’s sex ratio (the number of girls per 1,000 boys) touched 900. In the first quarter of this year, it galloped to 935. The number for March 2017 was still higher, 950.
To put these numbers in perspective, the national sex ratio for children in the 2011 Census was 919. In Haryana, the number stood at 834. There is now suspicion that the remarkable surge in sex ratio could be due to dubious numbers.
The state’s claim of having made rapid strides in correcting its gender imbalance (India’s worst, till recently) faces probing questions after an audit of figures reported by eight of 10 districts in the first quarter of this year found girl child numbers were misreported.
In some cases, they were inflated. In others, newborn girls were registered on priority in the quarter under review while male children were registered in the next quarter to manipulate the final outcome. The audit was started by the ‘Beti Bachao Beti Padhao’ campaign team after it got suspicious of some of these “remarkable” numbers.
The audit, which began in April, found that Panipat, which ranked second in the January-March list with a sex ratio of 1,007 (yes, more girls than boys) had overshot the actual number by 135. The revised number stands at 872. Narnaul, which had come third, had reported the birth of 968 girls. The audit team found the correct number to be 841. Similarly, Jhajjar (949) is now down to 845, Sonipat (948) stands corrected to 870, Kaithal (939) is now 890 and Faridabad (926) has been revised to 872.
Hisar might have seen a clerical error. Its reported ratio of 933 has been amended to 932. Gurgaon stands out in this list for underreporting, the sex ratio here (891) has increased to 898 after the audit.
Sources said the one of the major reasons for misreporting of figures was district-level staff were instructed to ensure all the girls born were registered immediately. “On priority, staff registered all girls born, which delayed the registration of boys. This reflected in the sex ratio and it appeared there has been a tremendous improvement. But it would have eventually been corrected because the boys too are being registered, although a little late,” said a senior official of the health department, who did not wish to be named.
Rakesh Gupta, additional principal secretary to the CM and state coordinator for Beti Bachao Beti Padhao, said, “At any given point, there are 45,000 pregnant women in the state on an average. Some officials have shown a tendency to make up data and we are conscious the data should be accurate. By the end of the year, all data will be accurately compiled and we are expecting the overall sex ratio to remain around 935 to 950 this year.”
The districts that reported inflated numbers don’t believe the monthly or quarterly figures are important. “These figures should not be given a lot of importance because they fluctuate a lot,” said R C Bidhan, deputy commissioner, Jhajjar. “We should focus on annual data and that has been improving for the district as well as the state. Two years ago, Jhajjar’s sex ratio was 760. It reached 884 last year,”he added.
Vinay Singh, deputy commissioner of Jind that also saw its reported number (889) corrected to 865, said, “Around 98% children born in district are registered along with Aadhar card and it is unlikely there can be a mistake. However, we will check with the civil surgeon and take necessary action if there is adiscrepancy.”
The ten districts audited so far are Panipat, Narnaul, Jhajjar, Sonipat, Kaithal, Hisar, Sirsa, Faridabad, Gurgaon and Jind.