I recently came across the news that, in Delhi, for the first time in many years, the number of girls born was higher than the number of boys.
Having long campaigned against a cultural discrimination towards baby girls which has led to a growth in the aborting of female foetuses, campaigners said figures, which showed that in 2008 1,004 girls were born for every 1,000 boys, could mark a break-through.
Dr Dharm Prakash of the Indian Medical Association, which ran a campaign against aborting girl foetuses, said: “The community has responded to our request that girls should be born.” Selective abortion has been illegal for years, but the practice remains rife. There are often reports of police raiding clinics where such operations are performed. In 2007, police in Gurgaon, a satellite city of Delhi, arrested a doctor after the remains of up to 35 foetuses were discovered in his clinic. The government has estimated that up to 10 million girls have been killed, before or immediately after birth, by their parents over the past 20 years.
In Delhi, some credit for the turn-around has been given to the local government’s so-called Ladli scheme. Under this project, the government deposits 10,000 rupees (Â£125) on the the birth of a baby girl and makes subsequent payments as she passes through school. The money is used for further education or to pay for a wedding and setting up home. (link)
In total, the Delhi government is committing to spend Rs. 1 Lakh (~$2000) to support families that give birth to girls. As I understand it, the program is limited to lower income families.
Livemint raises questions about whether the “Ladli” program, which was only initiated in the spring of 2008 itself, could have become so instantly successful. In a way, it would be even better if it wasn’t the government-financed program, as that might suggest that behaviors were starting to change on their own, at least in Delhi.
(See Abhi’s previous post for grim statistics on female foeticide in India, and indeed, around the world.)