In the hectic campaigning in Haryana, the issue of female foeticide and skewed sex ratio in the state has been lost in the din.
While parties have proposed sops for women voters in their manifestos, in the election rhetoric most of the senior leaders have not touched upon these issues that have far-reaching consequences on the future of the state.
Haryana is among the worst five states in the country when it comes to sex ratio. As per the Census 2011, the sex ratio in Haryana was 877 women per 1,000 men. The worst district is Gurgaon, the symbol of Haryana’s development, where the sex ratio is 853 females per 1000 males.
During the campaign, a grouse of candidates has been that areas in north Haryana have not been developed and all projects have been set up by the Bhupinder Singh Hooda government in Jhajjar and Rohtak. Little attention has been given to the fact that these two “pampered districts” have among the worst sex ratios. The ratio in Rohtak is 868:1000 and in Jhajjar, it is 861:1000.
The future also does not seem bright with the state’s sex ratio in the 0-6 age group being 830 females for 1,000 males.
When it comes to literacy, the rate for women stands at 66.8 per cent against 85.4 percent for men. Mewat fares the worst with just 37.6 per cent of its females being literate.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi is the only leader who has spoken about these issues in his rallies across the state. Modi said that 125 out of every 1,000 young men were not getting married in the state because of the distorted sex ratio. He pointed out that of the 15 districts in the country which had the most skewed sex ratio, nine were in Haryana. He promised that girls would not be allowed to be killed in the womb.
These issues have not figured on the priority list of any other leaders.
For INLD, the most important election issue is the conviction of their supremo OP Chautala which, it claims, is the result of a conspiracy.
Congress leaders are criticising the BJP for its failure to name their candidate for chief minister, Modi for his failure to curb inflation, and the INLD for projecting a convict as its chief ministerial candidate.
Dr Santosh Dahiya, INLD nominee from Beri, blamed the Congress for not doing anything in the 10 years to prevent female foeticide. “These issues have not been given any importance. The law and order in the state is among the worst, which is one of the reasons that parents are killing their daughters before they are born,” she said.
Dr Krishna Pandit, former Parliamentary Secretary for Health in the Hooda government, claimed that they had taken many steps for empowerment of females. She said that schemes like shagun to provide financial assistance for the marriage of girls and free education for girls had been introduced.
Officials of the Health Department say there have only 24 convictions under the Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostics Technique Act in the last one year. The state claims to be the first in the country where three court cases under this Act were filed. Officials claim that more than 150 ultrasound machines have been seized and sealed. The census figures, however show that a lot more needs to be done.