ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

Satish B AgnihotriSubscribe to Satish B Agnihotri

Not by Prosperity Alone

The Paradox of Rural Development in India: The Devapur Experience by Suresh Suratwala, Bhopal: Kishore Bharati, 2020; pp 197, ₹ 150 (paperback).

Survival of the Girl Child

Results of the first population census of the millennium reveal a number of significant changes in the sex ratio patterns in the country. Firstly, the sex ratio decline among children in the 0-6 age group turns out to be sharper in the urban areas (32 points) than in the rural. Second, the traditional north-south divide stands significantly modified and the 'northernisation' of sex ratios is rapidly taking the urban route. The sharp decline in the urban female/male (f/m) ratios among children cannot be explained away by any of the three popular escape hatches of yesteryears, i e, migration, undercount or biologically ordained high sex ratios at birth. This decline clearly points to one factor, sex selective abortion or female foeticide that has gained currency during the 1980s and more sharply in the 1990s.

High Female Literacy, Low Child Population

This paper examines the relationship between rural female literacy and the size of the child population (0-6 years) using block level data from the population census of 1991 for West Bengal. Its purpose is to find out if there is any threshold level of female literacy associated with a rapid decline in the size of the under-6 population. The analysis is done separately for three social groups; the tribals, the scheduled castes and the rest or the 'general' population. The results have an important bearing on policy while processes behind these are of considerable significance to researchers. Further validation of these patterns using 2001 Census data and similar analysis for states is indicated.

Infant Mortality Variations in Space and Time

Efforts to reduce infant mortality rates (IMR) in India appear to have reached a plateau in recent years, while the national population policy has set an ambitious goal of bringing these down to 30 by the year 2010. To achieve this, it is necessary to disaggregate the mortality data to identify groups or regions with high IMR levels and to intensify efforts to reduce mortality among these sections. Only then can a rapid reduction be made in the aggregate mortality levels. However, given wide variations in mortality levels among different states, such analyses should be state-specific. This paper analyses the infant and child mortality data for West Bengal in space through the district-level estimates and in time through the state-level estimates, comparing these with all-India figures. While the performance of the state has been well above the all-India average, mortality levels are high in certain regions and among certain groups. It is necessary to intensify efforts to reduce these through specific micro-planning. Similar state-specific analyses are necessary for other states and will serve useful purpose for design of policy.

Declining Infant and Child Mortality in India

Declining infant and child mortality levels are sure indicators of development. But these may not evenly benefit male and female children especially if the girl children are unable to access the improved health infrastructure and nutritional support. The consequent gender gap in mortality is a good index of discrimination against the girl children. Analysis of time series data on infant and child mortality of major Indian states indicates a more rapid decline in male mortality rates as mortality levels decline. However, many states known for their gender bias do show evidence of the 'substitution effect', i e, more rapid decline in female infant and child mortality rates in the wake of increasing incidence of pre-natal selection. It is argued here, however, that a mere improvement in mortality rates among 'surviving' girl children does not mean an improvement in the quality of their survival.
Back to Top