Census and sensibilities

India’s population census, 2011 has been released. India’s population has grown to 1.21 billion, second to only China. And despite a decade of slower population growth- it was 17.6 percent from 2001-2011, down from 21.5 percent in the 10 years before that- India still gained 181 million new people over that period, roughly the entire population of Pakistan. Well, hopefully by 2021, we’ll have better control on our population.

The government’s efforts to improve conditions for Indian women seems to take shape. A brilliant proof is an increase in female literacy that was higher than the country’s overall improvement, up about 9 percent to a nationwide literacy rate of 74 percent. I’ll take that as good news!

What is most alarming is one statistic- the ratio of young girls to young boys (counting those 6 years or younger) has fallen drastically, from 927 girls per 1,000 boys in 2001 to 914 in 2011. An evident divide between the north and south needs immediate attention as J&K’s child sex ratio has fallen to 859, making it the third worst state after Haryana and Punjab. In 2001, J&K had a better child sex ratio than the Indian average. With the exception of Himachal Pradesh, no north Indian state now has a child sex ratio above 900. That raised worries that despite laws to prohibit it, many families are still using abortion to ensure that they have sons.


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