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Home Ministry data vs Health Ministry data! Gujarat's poor sex ratio at birth data

Home minister Amit Shah, health minister Harsh Vardhan
By Rajiv Shah 
Don’t India’s top ministries – of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) and of Home Affairs (MoHA) – tally data before releasing them? It would seem so… A few days back, I did a story in Counterview, based on an MoHA report, stating that Gujarat has the lowest sex rate at birth (SRB) at 901 girls as against 1000 births, followed by Assam (903), Madhya Pradesh (905) and Jammu & Kashmir (909), raising valid apprehensions that widescale female foeticide may be prevalent in India’s “model” State.
Before I did the story, I had read a story in Gujarati daily “Sandesh”, which said that Gujarat was declared 100% Open Defecation Free in 2017, yet the claim turns out to be bogus in in the National Family Health Survey (NFHS)-5 report, released recently by MoHFW, which said that 26% of households still defecate in the open and that the state had added just 10% new toilets at the time of the survey (2019).
I asked senior journalist, Neelesh Rathod, who had done the story, to forward me the NFHS report, which he promptly did. After a gap of about a fortnight, I decided to scan through the report’s Gujarat portion, and I was surprised: It said that Gujarat’s SRB was 955 females per males for in the “last five years”. The figures were for NFHS report for 2019-20. There apparently was a considerable improvement: It was 906 in the earlier report (for 2015-16).
Improvement? Well, the MoHA report does not seem to think so, while the MoHFW report appears to suggest there was. Be that as it may, I decided to read through the introduction to the figures on Gujarat, which seemed to “clarify” things: It had generated data from 29,368 households, 33,343 women, and just 5,351 men. On the other hand, the MoHA report data are based on the actual registration at birth – which was 87.3% of the total births that may have taken place in 2019.
The NFHS-5 report also have some other revealing facts about Gujarat: 14.2% of urban and 26.9% or rural women were married before they reached 18; 2.6% urban and 6.7% rural women of the age 15-19 were already mothers or were pregnant at the time of the survey; neonatal mortality rate (NNMR) was 16.8 (urban) and 24.8 (rural), infant mortality rate (IMR) was 24.1 (urban) and 35.5 (rural), and under-five mortality rate (U5MR) was 26.7 (urban) and 44.2 (rural) – all per 1000.
Also, I found these data interesting: Ever-married women age 18-49 years who have ever experienced spousal violence 10.0 (urban) and 16.8 (rural); ever-married women age 18-49 years who have experienced physical violence during any pregnancy 2.2% (urban) and 1.2% (rural); and young women age 18-29 years who experienced sexual violence before reaching 18 years of age 3% (urban) and 4% (rural).

Comments

Somehow the figures sent out by the various ministries (central or state) are always doubtful.

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