India has been historically known to have low child sex ratios in the age-group 0-6 years of age (measured as number of girls per 1000 boys) in contrast to most other countries in the world. Competing arguments alternatively posit selective under-enumeration, highly masculine sex ratios at birth or differential child mortality as the factors underlying the low level of the child sex ratio. Although these arguments have not been fully resolved, sex differentials in child mortality have been seen as the primary factor contributing to them. However, the sharpened decline in the number of girls in recent decades is seen to be too skewed to be accounted for by such ‘explanations’. Earlier, the discriminatory practices towards girls as reflected through low child sex ratios were confined to particular communities and areas, now the low sex ratios are spreading to newer areas asking for more nuanced and layered analyses.
This Tiffin Talk will map the most recent pattern of child sex ratios and draw from an earlier collaborative work on child sex ratios in the north and central parts of India. It will attempt to place the issue, at what seems to be within the familial domain of decision-making, in the larger regime of developmental trajectories in the country.
Saraswati Raju is a Professor in Social Geography at the Centre for the Study of Regional Development (CSRD), Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. Her teaching and research interests are in issues related to social development with focus on gendered marginalities in labour markets, access to literacy/education/skills, empowerment, gender and space. She has published extensively on these issues in national and international journals of repute. She is one of the founding members for the International Geographic Union (IGU) Commission on Gender and Geography.