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UNPF representative Michael Vlassoff
"Indian women are very much second-class citizens"
 real 28k

Indira Kapoor, International Planned Parenthood
"Science has been misused"
 real 28k

Tuesday, 11 July, 2000, 16:09 GMT 17:09 UK
India rapped over birth bias
Children at desk
India is seeking to get population growth down
The United Nations has criticised India for failing to act over its dismal ratio of females to males.

Currently the sex ratio is 960 women for every 1,000 men - a statistic that the UN says reflects the lower status of women in India, who are more likely to be deprived of food, education and health services.

Women are also more likely to be aborted or even killed as babies because of many Indians' preference for sons.

A report by the UN Population Fund (UNPF) on World Population Day questions India's commitment to tackling these issues which mean India has one of the worst sex ratios in the world.

But the UN did praise India for making some progress in slowing down population growth.


Indian children
The population recently passed one billion
The practice of killing young girls has long been recognised as a problem in India and China - both strongly patriarchal societies.

It is particularly strong in rural India and is often tied to the tradition of dowry because of which girls are seen as an economic liability.

Selective abortion

Though illegal, selective abortions of female foetuses are on the increase in India, according to the UNPF.
Sex ratio
Women per 1,000 men
Nationally - 960
Kerala - 1036
Punjab - 882
Rajasthan - 910
Tamil Nadu - 974
Uttar Pradesh - 879
Female infant mortality figures in India are 40% higher than male.

The numbers of female infant deaths is lower in the educated south, particularly Kerala, where there are more women than men.

India has added 2.6 million people to its total population, since it officially crossed the one billion mark on 11 May.

Its population is growing by 30 new births a minute, 1,815 per hour and 1.3m every month.

UN tribute

But under its new national population policy, India is aiming at a reduced its fertility rate.


Growing numbers
Total population
1,002,600,000
30 births a minute
1,815 per hour
1.3m a month
15.7m a year
The UNPF paid tribute to the seriousness with which the government was setting about the task.

In a statement to mark World Population Day, India's Health Minister Dr CP Thakur said unchecked growth of the population meant that more people were denied the benefits of development.

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Female infanticide
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See also:

04 May 00 | South Asia
Plea to save girl babies
26 Apr 00 | South Asia
Blow for Indian birth control
12 Oct 99 | World population
World population: Special report
11 Jul 00 | South Asia
India's unwanted girls
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