CHAPTER 5

 

 

Rights and Freedoms

 

 

            The persistence of human deprivations indeed reflects a serious denial of social and economic rights conferred upon citizens by the Constitution of India.  Ill-health, malnutrition, illiteracy, insufficient earnings, social exclusion, lack of say in decision making – all these must be viewed as a set of unfreedoms constituting human poverty. The sections that follow discuss the extent to which the Indian State has fulfilled its Constitutional commitment to provide a decent standard of living to all citizens.

 

 

5.1    The Right To Survival

 

5.1.1    Life Expectancy At Birth

 

Living long indicates the capability to avoid both fatal illnesses and escape mortality.  In every country, much of the gains in life expectancy have come from significant improvements in health and public health conditions, sanitation, levels of environmental cleanliness, and access to safe drinking water – all of which form essential constituents of a decent standard of living.  To that extent, life expectancy at birth is not only a measure of the quantity but of the quality of life as well.

 


Figure  5.1

 


5.1.1.2        Life expectancy at birth has gone up from 32 years in 1950-51 to almost 63 years in 2000.  Nevertheless, India’s life expectancy today is 17 years less than Japan’s life expectancy (of 80 years), 10 years less than life expectancy at birth in Sri Lanka (73 years), and 7 years less than life expectancy in China (70 years).  Life expectancy at birth among Indian women is around 63 years.  It varies from 57 years in Madhya Pradesh to 75 years in Kerala – a shocking difference of 18 years.  The record of Kerala in this regard is so impressive that it is said that a child born in Kerala today can expect to live longer than the one born in Washington D.C.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Figure  5.2

 

 


5.1.1.3        In most countries and regions of the world, life expectancy among women exceeds that of men by about 5 years.  In 1998, among OECD countries, for example, female life expectancy was 79.6 years; it was 73.2 years among men.   In  India, however, women outlive men by just one year.  Sadly, in Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Orissa, men outlive women – pointing to the persistence of strong anti-female biases.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Figure  5.3


 


5.1.1.4        Life expectancy at birth also depends on where a child is born within a State. Life  expectancy  in rural  areas  tends to be lower than in  urban areas – pointing to the unequal opportunities for survival in the two areas.  Between 1989-92, life expectancy at birth among women born in rural Madhya Pradesh was 51.8 years – almost 23 years less than the life expectancy among urban women born in Kerala. 

 

5.1.2    Sex Ratio

 

            In all but a few countries of the world, there are typically 1005 women for every 1000 men.    Even though boys outnumber girls at birth by about the same proportion, studies have shown that where women and men have equal  access  to  care,  nutrition, health and medical attention, women due to their

 


Figure  5.4

biologically determined stronger constitution, live longer than men, and therefore outnumber them. Men outnumber women only in societies where women are specifically and systematically discriminated against.   India is  one  such country  where there are only  933  women  for  every 1000  men.   A  glaring

Text Box: How Low Is The Female Life Expectancy In Madhya Pradesh?

The female life expectancy at birth in Madhya Pradesh is 57 years.

q	It is the lowest amongst all the States in India.
q	It is 23 years less than the life expectancy of urban women in Kerala.
q	It is 26 years lower than the female life expectancy in Japan where it is 83 years.

q	Bangladesh and Nepal two extremely poor neighbours of India report a higher female life expectancy of 58.7 years and 57.6 years respectively.

q	Only 41 countries in the world report a lower female life expectancy than female life expectancy in Madhya Pradesh.  Thirty six of them being in Sub-Saharan Africa – the region devastated by war and AIDS.

q	Outside Sub-Saharan Africa only five countries - Sudan (56.8 years), Haiti (56.4 years), Cambodia (55.2 years), Lao P.D.R. (55 years), and Djibouti (52.4 years) – report a lower female life expectancy than of Madhya Pradesh.

feature of India’s development is the strong anti-female bias that characterizes much of society.  There is perhaps no more shameful statistics than the fact that, as Amartya Sen points out, some 40-50 million girls and women are ‘missing’ from the Indian population. 

 

 

5.1.3    Infant Mortality

 

 

               Life expectancy at birth is strongly influenced by the rate of child survival.  Between 1950-98, infant mortality rates have almost halved to 72 births per 1000 live births – down from 146 in 1951.  Close to 2 million infants, however, die every year - and most of these deaths are avoidable. 

 

5.1.3.2        The Infant Mortality Rate (IMR) is more than just a mortality indicator.  It is a comprehensive development indicator that reflects the quality of people’s lives.  Infant and child survival are directly affected by, for example, the earnings and education of parents, the prevalence of malnutrition and disease, the availability of clean drinking water and safe sanitation, the efficacy of health services, and above all by the health and position of women in society.   Levels and reductions in IMR therefore reflect achievements and progress in many of the constituents of decent living.

 

5.1.3.3        There are many countries that do better than India on infant survival.  Nepal and India report the same levels of infant mortality (72 infant deaths per 1,000 live births) even though India’s per capita income is some 80% higher than Nepal’s.


Figure  5.5

 


5.1.3.4        In South Asia, India reports the slowest rates of improvements in child survival.  Between 1970-98, Sri Lanka managed to achieve an annual rate of reduction in IMR of 4.7%.  In contrast, India recorded an annual rate of reduction of only 2.1% - less than Bangladesh and Nepal. 

 

Table  5.1

Reduction in Mortality (1970-98)

 

Countries

Deaths Per 1,000 Live Births

Average Annual Rate Of Reduction (%)

 

1970

1998

 

Sri Lanka

65

17

4.68

Nepal

156

72

2.72

Bangladesh

148

79

2.22

India

130

72

2.09

Pakistan

118

95

0.77

 

 

 

 

South Asia

130

72

2.09

Source: Human Development Report 2000

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5.1.3.5        Children born in India face unequal opportunities for survival.  Much depends once again on the State in which they are born, on the community in which they are born, and whether they are born in rural or in urban areas.  In 1998, for instance, the infant mortality rate in rural areas was one-and-half-times higher than in urban areas.

 


Figure  5.6

 



5.1.3.6            Similarly, in 1992-93, the IMR among Scheduled Caste communities was more than 30% higher than among the non-Scheduled Caste and non-Scheduled Tribe communities.

                                                           

Figure  5.7

 

5.1.3.7        IMR also varies by gender.  It is typically higher among girls than among boys – though the gap has been narrowing over the years.

 

                                                              

 

 

 

Figure 5.8

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


5.1.3.8        In 1998, levels of IMR varied from 16 in Kerala to more than six times higher - 98 in Madhya Pradesh and Orissa.

 


Figure  5.9

5.1.3.9        Progress in terms of reducing infant mortality has also not been even across the Indian States.  Kerala has been the best performer over the 20 year period – doing three times better than Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Orissa and Rajasthan. 

 

Table  5.2

Progress In Reducing Infant Mortality: 1976-96

 

 

Sl.

No.

Name of the State

Infant mortality rate (3-year moving average)

 

Annual average rate of reduction

Percentage

 

 

1975-77

1995-97

 

1

Kerala

52

14

6.4

2

Gujarat

146

62

4.2

3

Uttar Pradesh

181

85

3.7

4

Tamil Nadu

108

53

3.5

5

Punjab

104

52

3.4

6

Andhra Pradesh

123

65

3.1

7

Maharashtra

94

50

3.1

8

West Bengal*

87

56

3.1

9

Bihar*

110

72

3.0

10

Haryana

113

68

2.5

11

Madhya Pradesh

146

97

2.0

12

Karnataka

84

56

2.0

13

Orissa

141

98

1.8

14

Rajasthan

108

85

1.2

15

India

133

72

3.0

* Figures correspond to 1981-83 instead of 1975-77

               Source: Sample Registration System

 

5.1.4    Maternal mortality

 

               According to the Sample Registration System, India's maternal mortality rate in 1998was 407 per 100,000 live births.  The National Family Health Survey-2 for 1998-99 places the estimate at 540 – 619 in rural areas and 267 in urban areas.  These levels are more than 100 times the levels found in the West. High maternal mortality is the outcome of several factors including poor access to safe reproductive health care, absence of emergency obstetric assistance, inadequate attention to women’s health and nutrition especially during pregnancy, and the overall lack of freedoms that women need to have to exercise choices and take decisions.

 

How high is the  Maternal mortality in India?

 

Estimates of maternal mortality rates in India vary from 400 to 540 deaths per 100,000 live births. 

 

q       Maternal Mortality levels in India are more than 100 times than levels found in the West. Maternal Mortality rates of Singapore, Cuba, Malaysia, Thailand, Russian Federation, China, Sri Lanka and Viet Nam respectively are 6, 27, 39, 44, 50, 65, 130 and 160.  All of them are significantly lower than the rate in India.

 

q       Only five countries in the world - Chad (830), Burundi (910), Eritrea (1000), Mozambique and Central African Republic (1100) - report a higher level of maternal mortality than Uttar Pradesh – the most populous State in India .

 

   Source: Human Development Report 2000

5.1.4.2        Maternal mortality rates are the highest in Uttar Pradesh – 707 deaths per 100,000 live births.  What does this imply?  With close to several million babies born every year, several thousand mothers die every year due to complications arising out of pregnancy and during child-birth.

 

 

5.2    The right to good health

 

               How healthy are Indians? To a large extent, however, the low levels of life expectancy, high rates of infant mortality and maternal deaths reflect the poor health status of Indians.  Also, quite apart from the problems of defining what good health is, systematic, reliable and comprehensive data on many of the dimensions of health are not available in India.  There are however surrogate indicators that confirm the persistence of poor health among a majority of the Indian population.

 

 

5.2.1   Child Malnutrition

 

               Some 53% children (almost 60 million) under five remain malnourished - nearly twice the levels reported in many parts of sub-Saharan Africa.  This is despite the fact that the country has achieved remarkable expansion in food production, it has built up a good safety stock of foodgrains, and famine deaths have been virtually eliminated.

  

 

       Table  5.3

Child malnutrition in South Asia 1990-98

 

Sl.No.

Countries

Percentage of under-Weight Children below  5

1

Bangladesh

56

2

India

53

3

Nepal

47

4

Maldives

43

5

Bhutan

38

6

Pakistan

38

7

Sri Lanka

34

8

All developing countries

31

9

Least developed countries

40

10

Sub-Saharan Africa

31

11

South Asia

49

                                         Source: Human Development Report 2000

 

 

5.2.1.2     Bangladesh and India report the highest levels of child malnutrition in the world.

 

5.2.1.3     Progress in reducing child malnutrition has also been slow.  Over a six year period, for instance, between 1992-3 and 1998-9, the proportion of under-weight children below the age of 3 years fell by less than 5 percentage points to 46.7%.  The reduction in the proportion of ‘wasted’ children was even smaller – less than 4 percentage points.   The prevalence of such high levels of child malnutrition  point to the urgent need for improvements in the provisioning of child-health care, better education, increased knowledge on child care practices, and better care of the mother. 

 


Figure  5.10

 


5.2.2     Low Birth Weight And Underweight

 

            Another indicator of poor health and nutritional status is the proportion of low birth weight babies born in the country.  Low birth weight is particularly high in India. The proportion is only 9% in China and South Korea, 6% in Thailand and 8% in Indonesia. In India, the proportion of low birth weight babies is 33%.

Table  5.4

Infants born with low birth

Weight  in South Asia (1990-97)

 

Sl.

No.

Countries

Percentage of

Infants with low birth weight

1

Maldives

13

2

Pakistan

25

3

Sri Lanka

25

4

India

33

5

Bangladesh

50

6

Thailand

6

7

Indonesia

8

8

China

9

9

South Korea

9

                                         Source: Human Development Report 2000

 

5.2.2.2        Few people realize that levels of child malnutrition in India are almost twice the levels reported in sub-Saharan Africa.  Indeed the reasons for the prevalence of such high levels of child malnutrition do not lie in the obvious: low levels of income, unequal income distribution, lack of food availability, high rates of child deaths, vegetarianism, or even government neglect.  Where then do we need to look for explanations?  The first clue comes from examining birth weights.  Low birth weight is the best predictor of malnutrition.  Whereas almost one-third of all babies in India are born low birth weight, in Sub-Saharan Africa, the proportion is just one-sixth.  Indian babies begin life by getting malnourished in the womb.  Pregnant mothers simply do not get adequate attention and care, diet and rest.  This is not surprising at all – given the heavy burden of work on most women. Another closely related factor is care of the child.  Solid food supplements are seldom introduced at the end of six months of exclusive breast-feeding.  Given the poor nutritional status of the mother, the breast milk itself is often inadequate and may be deficient in nutritious content even when the baby is being exclusively breast-fed.  Introducing food supplements at the end of six months is therefore critical for the infant.  Even where such food is introduced, responsibility for feeding in poor households is often left to older siblings who just may not have the patience to feed an infant.  After all, infants at that age do not eat – they need to be fed.  And this takes time – a luxury that many poor women can hardly afford. The clue to child malnutrition therefore lies not in examining income levels or food availability, but in how society cares for its children, and how society treats its women.

 

5.2.2.3  Several factors account for such a high proportion of low birth weight babies being born in India.  Important among them are the inadequate nutrition of mothers during pregnancy, the limited access to good quality health care, and more generally, the lack of appropriate knowledge within the family on caring practices of both women and children.  

 

 

5.2.3    Anaemia

 

               Whereas data on health status is poor for both women and men, there is sufficient evidence to suggest that women’s health remains much more neglected.  Recent data on the prevalence of anaemia among women points to the shocking neglect of women’s health.  According to the National Family Health Survey 1998-99, some 52% of married women between the ages of 15-49 years suffered from anaemia - 46% in urban areas and 54% in rural areas.  The proportion varies from 23% in Kerala to 86% in Arunachal Pradesh. Prevalence of anaemia among children below the age of three was even higher.  Close to 74% of children below the age of three suffered from anaemia – 71% in urban areas and 75% in rural areas.

 

 

5.2.4     Inadequate Provisioning Of  Quality Health Services

 

               The poor health and nutritional status of Indians reflects, to a large extent, the lack of adequate access to quality health care. India has put in place an extensive system of public health services. The improvements in health have been made possible due to the expansion of a large public health and medical network throughout India.  In 1951, the country had only 725 primary health care centres.  This increased to more than 150,000 primary health care centres and sub-centres by 1995.  The Table below shows the expansion in health services between 1951-97.

 

 

Table  5.5

 

Expansion of Health Services

 

 

1951

1961

1971

1981

1992

1996

1997

No. of Medical colleges

         28

         60

         98

       111

       146

       165

165

No. of Hospitals

     2,694

     3,094

     3,862

     6,804

   13,692

   15,097

 N.A.

No. of Dispensaries

     6,515

     9,406

   12,180

   16,751

   27,403

   28,225

N.A.

No. of Community health centers

N.A.

N.A.

N.A.

       217

     2,186

     2,572

2,628

No. of Primary health centers

       725

     2,565

     5,112

     5,740

   20,701

   21,917

22,446

No. of Sub-centres

N.A.

N.A.

   28,489

   51,405

 131,370

 134,931

136,379

No. of Hospital beds (all types)

 117,178

 230,000

 348,655

 569,495

 834,650

 870,161

N.A.

No. of Doctors

   61,840

   83,756

 151,129

 268,712

 395,851

 375,291

484,401

No. of Dentists

     3,290

     3,582

     5,512

     8,648

   11,300

   23,953

N.A.

No. of Nurses

   16,550

   35,584

   80,620

 154,280

 385,410

 565,696

N.A.

Source: Ministry of Health and Family Welfare cited in Economic Survey 1998-99

 

5.2.4.2        Public health care through primary health care centers has spread to most parts of India, but serious issues of quality, access and efficiency plague the proper functioning of the system.

 

 

Table 5.6

 

Percentage Of Children 12-23 Months Fully Immunized (1998-99)

 

Region

Percentage of children immunized

Region

Percentage of children immunized

North

 

East

 

 

 

Bihar

11

Delhi

70

Orissa

44

Haryana

63

West Bengal

44

Himachal Pradesh

83

West

 

Jammu and Kashmir

57

Goa

83

Punjab

72

Gujarat

53

Rajasthan

17

Maharashtra

78

 

 

South

 

Central

 

Andhra Pradesh

59

 

 

Karnataka

60

Madhya Pradesh

22

Kerala

80

Uttar Pradesh

21

Tamil Nadu

89

 

 

 

 

India

42

 

 

  Source: NFHS-2: 1998-99

 

5.2.4.3     India was a signatory to the Alma Ata Declaration in 1978 that assured ‘health for all’ by the year 2000.  More than two decades later, proper access to health care remains a distant dream for many millions. For example, despite the commitment to assure universal immunization coverage to all children by the year 2000, the National Family Health Survey 1998-99 reports that only 42% children between 12-23 months were fully immunized -  37% in rural areas and 61% in urban areas. The coverage is shockingly low in Bihar – 11% and in Rajasthan – 17%.

 

5.2.4.4        Again, according to the National Family Health Survey-2 (1998-99), only a third of deliveries in rural India were attended to by a health professional.  The proportion was less than 25% in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh – two of the most populous States in India.

 

Table 5.7

 

Proportion Of Births Attended By A Health Professional 1997-98

                                                 

Region

Percentage

Region

Percentage

 

North

 

East

 

 

 

Bihar

24

Delhi

67

Orissa

34

Haryana

42

West Bengal

44

Himachal Pradesh

40

West

 

Jammu and Kashmir

43

Goa

91

Punjab

63

Gujarat

54

Rajasthan

36

Maharashtra

59

 

 

South

 

 

 

Andhra Pradesh

65

Central

 

Karnataka

59

Madhya Pradesh

30

Kerala

95

Uttar Pradesh

22

Tamil Nadu

84

 

 

 

 

India

43

 

 

          Source: NFHS-2

 

 

5.2.5     Access To Safe Drinking Water And Sanitation

 

 

            Affecting the health status of people – and the overall quality of life – is also the limited access to safe drinking water and sanitation. According to recent estimates, over 90% of India’s population has access to safe drinking water.

 

Figure  5.11

 


 

 


Such a high coverage rate for drinking water reflects perhaps the definitional mirage of India – and not the ground reality.  Large segments of populations – in both rural and urban areas – remain without access to adequate quantities of safe drinking water.   The physical limitation of access to water gets compounded in the case of the Scheduled Castes by diminished social access and in case of the Scheduled Tribes by the remoteness and terrain factors.  As a matter of fact, many water-borne diseases including diarrhea continue to threaten the lives of millions of children.  Water contamination by arsenic and other chemicals pose a serious threat in many parts of the country.  At the same time, indiscriminate drilling is leading to rapid depletion of water levels throughout the country.

 

 


Figure  5.12

 


5.2.5.2        The coverage of population with proper sanitation facilities (principally safe disposal of human excreta) is also very low.  More than 90% of the rural population and some 50% of the urban population does not have proper sanitation facilities.

 

5.3     Freedom From Hunger

 

            Poverty prevents the poor from taking advantage of opportunities that become available to them to improve their lot- be it education, health, work, micro credit etc.  Poverty creates externalities that cannot be controlled by individual actors.  It requires national and international collective action to eradicate poverty.  India’s record in ending poverty unfortunately has not been very impressive.  Between the year 1951 to 2000, the incidence of rural income poverty fell from 47% to around 27.09%.  Too many people – 260 million people live below the poverty line.  These people have neither the energy nor the resources to benefit from the development.  New schools might be built, new clinics opened and new farming techniques developed but these would have little significance for those who cannot think beyond finding food for their family.  Children of such parents do not go to schools.  Existence of health care facilities is of little consolation to them..  The position of SC and ST communities remains worse than the rest of the population (see Appendices XI & XII).  The same is believed to be the case with many backward communities though no official data in respect of them are available.


Figure  5.13

5.3.2           Despite the improved growth performance in the 1990s, income poverty was down only marginally from 38.9% in 1987-88 to 36% in 1993-94.  The poverty, however, declined at a much faster rate after 1993-94 with percentage of population below poverty line in 1999-2000 becoming 26.1%.  The trend in income poverty reduction has been far from uniform.

 

·         Between 1951 to 1977-78, there was fluctuation.  In 1951, 47”% of the population lived below the poverty line.  This rose to 64% in 1954-55, fell to 45% in 1960-61 and then rose again to 51.3% in 1977-78.

 

·         Between 1977-78 to 1987-88, significant steady improvement: Between 1977-78 and 1983 the proportion of rural population living below the poverty line fell from 53.1% to 45.71% and by 1987-88, it had fallen further to 39.1%.  During the same period, income poverty fell in urban areas as well with the proportion of urban population living below the poverty line declining from 45.2% in 1977-78 to 40.8% in 1983 and to 38.2% in 1987-88.  Overall percentage of  people living below poverty line fell to 38.9%  in 1987-88.

 

·         Between 1987-88 to 1993-94 setbacks.  Economic reforms were initiated in 1991, and in the years immediately following the reforms, India witnessed setback in its efforts to reduce income poverty.  The proportion of population below the poverty line declined only marginally from 38.9% in 1987-88 and to 36.0% in 1993-94.  Rural poverty declined between 1987-88 and 1993-94 from 39.1% to 37.3% and urban poverty declined from 38.2%  to 32.4% in the same period.

 

·         After 1993-94 the percentage of people below poverty line declined to 26.1% in 1999-2000.  The percentage of rural and urban poverty during the period declined respectively to 27.09% and 23.62%.

 

5.3.3        Progress in reducing income poverty has also been uneven across the States as Table 5.8 shows.

 

Table  5.8

Income Poverty Reduction Across The States

 

States

1973-74

1999-2000

% Reduction

In Poverty

Kerala

59.79

12.72

78.73

West Bengal

63.43

27.02

57.40

Tamil Nadu

54.94

21.12

61.56

Punjab

28.13

6.16

78.10

Gujarat

48.15

14.07

70.78

Orissa

66.18

47.15

28.75

Andhra Pradesh

48.86

15.77

67.72

Rajasthan

48.86

15.28

68.73

Maharashtra

53.24

25.02

53.01

Madhya Pradesh

61.78

37.43

39.41

Karnataka

54.47

20.04

63.21

Uttar Pradesh

57.07

31.15

45.42

Bihar

61.91

42.60

31.19

Haryana

35.36

8.74

75.28

India

54.88

26.10

52.44

   Source: Planning Commission

 

5.3.4        Between 1973-74 and 1999-2000, Kerala, Punjab and Haryana achieved maximum reduction in income poverty of over 75%.  Orissa and Bihar on the other hand were the States where the lowest reduction of less than 32% in income poverty took place during the period.

 

5.3.5        The percentage of population below the poverty line has declined as per official estimates, though these estimates are not strictly comparable due to adoption of different methodology etc. in estimation of poverty.  The quality and reliability of official data on poverty has however been a matter of debate.  There is wide divergence in estimates of poverty in India arrived at by various economists as the following table reveals.

 

Table 5.9

Percentage of People Living Below the Poverty Line in

Rural India in the 1990s

                      

a

SDT/KS

b

GD

c

S.P.

d

P.C.

1989-90

36.69

34.30

34.60

39.1

(87-88)

1990-91

37.48

36.43

35.38

N.A.

1992

40.07

46.12

37.42

43.47

43.92

 

N.A.

1993/94

44.19

39.65

36.66

37.27

N.A.

37.3

1994/95

43.64

40.02

41.18

N.A.

1995/96

40.08

37.15

37.63

 

N.A.

1997

38.29

35.78

35.92

N.A.

1998

(6 months)

44.89

 N.A.

42.58

27.09

(99-2000)

Source: (a)        Suresh D. Tendulkar (1998): “Indian Economic Reforms and Poverty: An Assessment in I.J. Ahluwalia and I.M.D. Little ed: ‘India’s Economic Reforms and Development, OUP, N. Delhi.

(b)           G. Datt (1999) “Has Poverty declined since Economic Reforms? Statistical Data Analysis”, Economic and Political Weekly, December.

(c)       S.P. Gupta, Member, Planning Commission, ‘Trickle Down Theory Revisited’, Yojana Bhavan, New Delhi.

(d)       Planning Commission, Perspective Planning Division, 1997.

 

5.4    The Right To Education

 

               India has recorded impressive achievements in higher education.  But its record in terms of ensuring universal elementary education remains extremely poor. Today 350 million people in India cannot even read or write, notwithstanding the constitutional promise of providing free and compulsory education for all children by the year 1960.

How is India Faring on Elementary Education?

 

q       Elementary education is far from universal despite the Constitutional promise of providing free and compulsory education for all children – by the year 1960.  Current literacy rate is estimated to be 65.38%.

 

q       India’s adult literacy rate in 1991 of  52% was lower than literacy rates in sub-Saharan Africa (57%) and  in East Asia (84%).

 

q       India’s female literacy rate in 1991 was 38% - lower than the rate in sub-Saharan Africa (47%), and  in East Asia (76%).

 

q       In Sri Lanka, average years of schooling for men are 8 years; it is 2.9 years for Indian men - average years of schooling are 6.4 years for women in Sri Lanka; in India, it is just 1.8 years for women.  

q       62% of primary school entrants reach Grade V in India.  The proportion is 90% in Indonesia, 94% in China and Malawi and 98% in Sri Lanka.

 

5.4.2        The number of primary schools increased significantly between 1951-95 – from 210,000 to 590,000. Close to 95% of the villages have a primary school within a walking distance of one kilometer. As a result, literacy rates tripled between 1951-91. Yet, adult illiteracy in 1991 was only about 52%, and close to two-thirds of Indian women could not read and write. 

 

 5.4.3       Literacy estimates by NSSO suggest that even in 1997 nearly half of Indian women and a third of Indian men could not read and write.   Provisional census 2001 figures released recently indicate that in all 65.38% population is literate – percentage of literacy rate  being 75.96 amongst males and 54.28 amongst females.

 

5.4.4        Just about 62% of children reach Grade V of primary schooling, and it is well known that of those completing Grade V, many cannot even read and write a simple sentence.

How  Bihar Fares In Women’s Literacy ?

 

q       In 1981, 13% of Bihar’s adult women - (defined as those 15 years and above) – could read and write.  This proportion increased to 18% in 1991 and is estimated at present to be 33.57% (latest Census figures).

 

q       Only 50% of girls 6-17 years (NFHS-2, 1998-99) attend school in Bihar. 

 

q       Only 15 countries in the world – Niger ( 7.4%), Burkina Faso (12.6%), Guinea-Bissau  (17.3%),  Nepal  (21.7%), Benin  (22.6%), Yemen (22.7%), Senegal  (25.8%), Gambia  (27.5%), Bangladesh  (28.6%), Pakistan  (28.9%), Lao P.D.R.  (30.2%), Ethiopia (30.5%), Mauritania (31.0%),  Mali (31.1%), Central African Republic (31.7%) - report a lower adult literacy rate than the rate among women in Bihar.

           

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5.4.5           The literacy rates among Indian women is particularly low.  Several African countries report higher rates of adult female literacy than India. For instance, the female literacy rate in Sudan is 54%, in Rwanda it is 57% and in Zambia it is 69%.  Literacy rates within India also vary significantly across States, among communities, and between rural and urban areas.

 


Figure 5.14

 


5.4.6           Among the worst off are typically women in rural areas.  For example, in 1991, the literacy among Rajasthan’s Scheduled Tribe women – over 2.5 million of them – was as low as 4%.

 


Figure  5.15

 


5.4.7        There has been an improvement in the attendance of girls in schools, but not sufficient enough for India to realize the goal of universal schooling.

 


Figure  5.16

 

 

 


5.5   Freedom From Gender-Based Discrimination

 

            Political, economic and social participation and leadership of women, according to Dr.Amartya Sen, is a crucial aspect of “development with freedom”.  He further argues that adequate recognition of it is of the utmost importance in the political economy of development.  In India, unfortunately several forms of gender-based discrimination are prevalent.

 

 

5.5.1        Female-Male Gaps In Basic Education

 

 

                The female-male gaps are most striking in basic education.  Consider the following facts:

 

·         In 1991, the male literacy rate was 64%.  It was only 39% among women.

·         In 1995-96, some 41% of girls dropped out before completing primary school.  The proportion was 38% among boys.

 

 5.5.1.2          Most recent estimates for 1997 by NSSO suggest that almost half of Indian women are unable to read and write; the proportion is a quarter for Indian men.  Gender differentials in literacy are also very large in most of the States.  The position is worst in the States of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Orissa where difference is over 25%.

                       

                       

Table  5.8

Gender Differentials In Literacy

 

States/UTs

Literacy Percentage

 

Women

Men

Difference

Rajasthan

35

73

38

Madhya Pradesh

41

70

29

Bihar

34

62

28

Uttar Pradesh

41

69

28

Orissa

38

64

26

Haryana

52

76

24

Gujarat

57

80

23

Jammu & Kashmir

48

71

23

Andhra Pradesh

43

64

21

Arunachal Pradesh

48

69

21

Maharashtra

63

84

21

Manipur

66

86

20

Tamil Nadu

60

80

20

West Bengal

63

81

18

Himachal Pradesh

70

87

17

Assam

66

82

16

Karnataka

50

66

16

Goa

79

93

14

Nagaland

77

91

14

Sikkim

72

86

14

Tripura

67

79

12

Punjab

62

72

10

Kerala

90

96

6

Meghalaya

74

79

5

Mizoram

95

96

1

India

50

73

23

       Source: 53rd Round of NSSO

 

 

5.5.1.3        Only 2 countries in the world – Guinea-Bissau and Yemen report a larger male-female differential in literacy rates than Rajasthan (38 percentage points).

 

 

 

 5.5.2      Anti-Female Bias In Mortality

           

               The anti-female bias is so strong that instances of female infanticide and foeticide are reported even today in parts of India. It is a manifestation of gross injustice against girls and women.   Table 5.9 shows both – the States where female infant mortality rates are higher than those of males and the States where it is other way round.

Table  5.9

A Comparative Picture Of Statewise Mortality Rates

 

States

Where female IMR exceeds male IMR

Male

Female

Excess of female IMR over male IMR

States Where male IMR exceeds female IMR

Male

Female

Excess of female IMR over male IMR

Haryana

61

81

21

Assam

68

67

-1

Uttar Pradesh

79

93

14

Orissa

98

97

-1

Maharashtra

43

56

13

Madhya Pradesh

100

97

-3

Tamil Nadu

48

58

10

Kerala

18

13

-5

Punjab

53

56

4

Karnataka

61

56

-5

Gujarat

63

66

3

West Bengal

59

48

-11

Andhra Pradesh

65

68

3

Bihar

85

67

-18

Rajasthan

83

84

1

India

70

74

-4

Source: Sample Registration System 2000                                             

 

 

5.5.3    Freedom To Make Personal Choices

 

               Unequal opportunities in education are in itself a major impediment to young girls and women who are denied the opportunity to realize their full potential.  Apart from this, there are several socio-cultural factors that curb women’s freedoms. 

Text Box: A Question Of Gender 
q	While growing up in South Asia is a perpetual struggle, to be a woman in this region is to be a non-person.  Women bear the greatest burden of human deprivation in South Asia.

q	Discrimination against South Asian women begins at, or even before, birth.  Female foeticide and infanticide, neglect of health, and gender-biased feeding practices combined with heavy work burdens, all are manifestations of son preference and the patriarchal structures which prevail across the region.  South Asia has one of the most distorted sex ratios in the world – there are only 940 females for every 1000 males. 

q	Invisibility of women in the economy is a worldwide phenomenon, but in South Asia its impact on women is pernicious.

- Human Development in  South Asia, 2000

 

 

5.5.3.2        Women continue to be denied the freedom to work and equal opportunities in the workplace.  For instance, female wage rates in unorganized sector are lower than male rates.  A smaller proportion of women has access to higher education; and a large part of women’s work goes unnoticed and unrecognized.

 

5.5.3.3        Most young girls do not even have the freedom to choose whom to marry – let alone when to marry.  As a result, most of them are ‘forced’ to marry young.  Even today, some 50% of women get married before the legal minimum age of 18 years.

 

 

 

 

Figure 5.17

5.5.4    Freedom To Participate In Decision Making

 

               Women are making significant gains in the political sphere where increased participation is rapidly empowering women, boosting their confidence, changing perceptions regarding their contribution, and improving their status and position in society.  For instance, political participation and grassroot democracy have been strengthened considerably by the 73rd and 74th Constitutional Amendments that have created new democratic institutions for local governance.  By 1999, under the provisions of said Amendments 227,698 gram Panchayats at the village level, 5,906 Panchayat Samitis at the Block level, and 474 Zilla Parishads at the district level had been created.  In addition, some 3,586 urban local bodies had been created.  So far, 2.5 million members have been elected to Gram Panchayats, 129,871 members have been elected at the Block level to Panchayat Samitis, and another 12,671 members have been elected at the District level as Zilla Parishad members. Reservation of one-third of all seats for women has been constitutionally ensured in local bodies.  The impact of this has been phenomenal.  By 1999, as many as 768,582 women had been elected to Gram Panchayats, and 38,582 women to Panchayat Samitis.  Another 4,030 women were elected as Zilla Parishad representatives.

 

Table  5.10

Women’s Presence In The Lok Sabha

 

Year

Seats

Women MPs

% Women MPs

1952

499

22

4.41

1957

500

27

5.40

1962

503

34

6.76

1967

523

31

5.93

1971

521

22

4.22

1977

544

19

3.29

1980

544

28

5.15

1984

544

44

8.09

1989

517

27

5.22

1991

544

39

7.17

1996

543

39

7.18

1998

543

43

7.92

1999

543

49

9.02

Average

528

33

6.13

5.5.4.2        Women have, however, not found adequate representation in the Lok Sabha.  The percentage of elected women Lok Sabha members has never exceeded 10.  Table 5.10 shows representation of women in Lok Sabhas since 1952.  Average representation of women in Lok Sabha works out to only 6.13.

 

 

5.5.4.3        The representation of women in Parliaments of various countries of the world is shown in Table 5.11.  The representation of women in Indian Parliament is lower to the world’s average and is even lower than of Sub-Saharan Africa and Bangladesh.

 

Table  5.11

Representation Of Women In Parliament Of Various Countries

 

Countries

 

Single or Lower House

Upper House or Senate

Total (Both Houses)

Bangladesh

12.4

n.a.

12.4

India

8.8

8.5

8.7

Nepal

5.4

15

7.5

Maldives

6.3

n.a.

6.3

Sri Lanka

4.9

N.a.

4.9

Pakistan

2.8

2.3

2.6a

Bhutan

2.0

n.a.

2.0

South Asia (unweighted)

7.4

7.5

7.3

World

13.3

10.6

12.8

Nordic Countries

38.3

n.a.

38.3

Sub-Saharan Africa

11.6

13.2

11.8

East Asiab

9.5

13.0

10.1

a  : Data represents status of Parliaments prior to October 12, 1999.

b  :  East Asian data does not include Indonesia and Republic of Korea.

Source :   De Silva 1995; GOB 1991 & 1996a; GOI 1998b; GOI 1999b; Gooneratne

  & Karuneratne 1996; GOP 1998a; HMG Nepal 1999c; and IPU 1999.

 

5.5.4.4        The representation of women in the Central Council of Ministers between 1985 & 2001 is shown in the Table 5.12.  The data show that women have remained poorly represented in Council of Ministers.

 

Table  5.12

 

Representation Of Women In The Central Council Of Ministers (1985-2001)

 

 

Year

Number of Ministers

 

Number of Women Ministers

Cabinet Minister

Minister of State

Deputy Minister

Cabinet Minister

Minister of State

Deputy Ministers

 

1985

15

25

0

1

3

0

1990

17

17

5

0

1

1

1995

12

37

3

1

4

1

1996

18

21

0

0

1

0

1997

20

24

0

0

5

0

1998

21

21

0

1

3

0

2001

30

7

35

3

2

4

Source:  Central Stastical Organisation And Records of Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs

 

5.5.4.5        The representation of women in Council of Ministers in the countries of South Asia is given in the Table 5.13.  Sri Lanka has more women in Cabinet than India.

 

Table  5.13

 

Women In Cabinets (1999)

 

Country

Women

Men

Women As % Of Men

India

8

76

10.5

Sri Lanka

4

29

13.8

Bangladesh

4

41

9.8

Pakistan

3

26

11.5

Nepal

1

31

3.2

Note :     Data for Pakistan refers to situation prior to October 1999.

Source :  Chowdhry 1994; GOB 1996a; GOI 2000a; Gooneratne &

  Karuneratne 1996; and GOP 1998a; HMG Nepal 1999.

 

5.5.4.6        In 1996, there was only one woman amongst 25 judges in Supreme Court and 15 women in 501 judges of the High Courts.  The representation of women in High Courts of countries in South Asia is shown in the Table5.14. Sri Lanka has higher representation of women in High Courts than India.

 

Table  5.14

 

Representation Of Women In High Courts In South Asia (1995-2000)

 

Name of the Country

 

Men

 

Women

Women

(as a % of men)

Sri Lanka

26

2

7.69

India

488

15

3.07

Bangladesh

45

1

2.22

Pakistan

94

2

2.13

Nepal

101

2

1.98

 

5.5.4.7        In Indian Administrative Service out of 5047 Officers (1996) only 501 constituting 9.92%, were women.  The percentage of women officers serving in Government of India as on 1st April, 1997 at Under Secretary, Deputy Secretary, Director, Joint Secretary, Additional Secretary  and Secretary levels respectively was 6.33, 11.89, 17.2, 13, 7.1 and 3.8.  In 1995, 15.36% women were employed in organised sector. In 1996, percentage of female employees in Central Government, State Governments and local bodies  was 7.1, 16.6 and 25.6% respectively.

 

5.5.4.8        The representation of women at various levels in services, representative bodies and judiciary as revealed by data given in this section remains grossly inadequate even after fifty years of working of the Constitution.   Lack of adequate participation of women is not only depriving them of their due share in income but also of the social benefits that come from women’s enhanced status and independence (including the reduction of mortality and fertility rates).

 

 

5.5.5      Freedom from fear

 

               Many women cannot even leave their houses without the permission of men – fathers, husbands or brothers.  Recent data from NFHS-2 for 1998-99 reveal, for instance, that 80-85% of women in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and Haryana need permission to even visit friends, relatives or even go to the market.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TABLE  5.16

Extent Of  Women's Autonomy  In Various States

 

States

Per Cent Not Involved

In Any Decision Making

Per Cent Of Women Involved In Decision Making About

Per Cent Of Women Who Do Not Need

Permission To

Per Cent Of Women With

Access To Money

Cooking

Own

Health Care

Purchase of jewellery etc

Staying with parents, siblings

Go to the market

Visit friends and relatives

Uttar Pradesh

16

78

45

41

36

17

12

52

Bihar

14

82

48

43

44

22

21

67

Rajasthan

13

82

41

43

39

19

17

41

Madhya Pradesh

13

82

37

44

38

21

20

49

Jammu & Kashmir

12

80

56

58

49

12

8

58

Karnataka

8

88

49

47

45

43

34

67

West Bengal

8

87

45

48

47

18

14

51

Andhra Pradesh

7

86

56

61

58

20

15

58

Kerala

7

81

73

63

60

48

38

66

Delhi

5

83

69

59

47

52

34

82

Assam

5

88

65

54

45

13

14

35

Gujarat

4

90

71

74

65

55

51

74

Goa

4

90

62

63

72

67

59

82

Haryana

3

94

67

78

65

37

21

71

Sikkim

3

92

60

58

57

38

42

79

Tamil Nadu

2

92

61

67

62

79

56

79

Punjab

1

97

79

75

68

50

28

78

Himachal Pradesh

1

95

81

93

91

33

31

80

Source: NFHS 1998-99

 

5.5.5.2        According to the National Crime Records Bureau, nearly 7,000 complaints of domestic violence are reported every year to the Delhi Police.  Of these, FIRs are filed in just 10% of the cases.  Again, of the 284 cases of rape reported in Delhi  in 1992, there were only 3 convictions by 1995.  The status of women in India though have shown some improvement in last fifty years but the objective of achieving equality between men and women is still a distant dream.  The focus recently has decisively shifted from welfare of women to empowerment of women which has been recognized as being of crucial importance in achieving equality between men and women.  A long journey is still ahead to achieve that goal for the women continue to remain grossly under-represented in places where crucial decisions are made.

Gender Justice

 

Judicial activism in recent years has led to ensuring greater equality for women before the law. Review of legislation from a gender perspective has begun to bring greater equality for women. Greater awareness among women, a stronger recognition of women’s rights, sustained public advocacy and effective judicial activism are beginning show some results.  The Supreme Court's landmark judgement in 1997 on a writ petition by some women's groups seeking the enforcement of the fundamental rights of working women has paved the way for their greater protection from sexual harassment.  The Supreme Court, in 1997, also announced a set of guidelines for sexual harassment for the first time.  Court judgements have also started invoking international conventions like CEDAW to make a stronger case for women's justice.  Institutions like the National Commission for Women and the National Human Rights Commission are carrying out detailed investigations of injustices against women.