Sex ratio at birth in India's western state of Maharashtra has crossed the 1,000-mark in many areas in the last five years, according to the National Family Health Survey-4 (2015-16). In Mumbai city, its is 1,033.
A sex ratio 950 girls of more to 1,000 boys is considered a healthy one in the general population.
In Maharashtra cities of Mumbai, Pune, Nagpur, Aurangabad, Bhandara and Akola, it touched the magical 1,000. Even in rural areas, barring those of Pune and Kolhapur, more girls have been born in the last five years, which only some north-eastern states and southern sate of Kerala can match. In fact, Wardha in Maharashtra leads in both the urban and rural categories, with a ratio of 1,266 and 1,377, respectively.
Against Mumbai island city's 1,033, suburban Mumbai district stands at 932. The figures are surprising even for the demographers, given the poor child sex ratio of the city (838) in the 2011 census.
Akola, Aurangabad and Pune follow with 1,068, 1,067 and 1,066 girls, respectively.
Even the 'infamous' Beed has touched a new high – at 1,046 (rural). This suggests a gradual change in the mindset of the society, which has been patriarchal for long.
Thane city, part of the Mumbai Metro region, appears to be at the bottom of the heap, with 747. Maoist-affected Gadchiroli and under-developed Amravati are also seeing more girls now than boys. The survey puts "richer" western Maharashtra cities of Dhule (805), Jalgaon (819) and Kolhapur (831) at the bottom.
Maharashtra's overall sex ratio, a major indicator of female foeticide, has gone up from 867 to 924 over a decade, says the survey, comparing the NFHS3 and NFHS 4 in 2005 and 2015, respectively.
Urban and rural figures for every district are not available. Among rural areas, apart from Wardha, Amravati, Nandurbar, Ratnagiri and Satara have all crossed the 1,000-mark.
The NFHS is a large-scale survey by the Union health and family welfare ministry conducted across India. The International Institute of Population Science (IIPS), Mumbai, is the nodal agency which surveyed the state in April-September 2015.
The survey covered 27,000 households in Maharashtra, which reflects key indicators and trends in the state. The district-level survey covered 700-800 households each.
With the improvement in sex ratio, educational level of women and their marriageable in Maharashtra are also rising. Now 42% women (15-49 years) undergo 10 years of schooling, compared to 30% a decade ago. The number of women (20-24 years) marrying before the age of 18 has also come down from 39% to 25% in a decade.
The data, however, paints a grim picture of family planning in Maharashtra. Fewer women (65%) are using family planning methods now, compared to a decade ago (67%). About 9.7% of unmet need of contraceptives highlights what needs to be done to help women who are forced to carry on with unwanted pregnancies.
Bihar and Tamil Nadu have also improved their records considerably over the decade. Haryana, MP, Karnataka and West Bengal have slipped further, states the survey.
A health ministry official said: "The NFHS-4 data will not only give us an idea about the effectiveness of the ongoing programmes but will also help us identify the need for new programmes with area-specific focus."
(Kanchan Srivastava | DNA)