A “sharp fall in fertility”, as reflected by the decline in the absolute number of children in the zero-to-six age group in Delhi, is being seen as a major contributory factor for the trend towards stabilisation of its population.

The Census of India 2011 has brought out this interesting data as per which the population of children in the 0-6 age group was about 19.7 lakh in 2011 as compared to about 20.2 lakh in 2001. “Thus the absolute number of children is lower than it was in 2001, even though the base population has since increased by about 30 lakh. In fact, this trend is visible in the all-India figures as well,” the report says.

Observing that “the fall in fertility appears to be a nationwide phenomenon since the proportion of all India 0-6 population to total population has fallen from 15.92 per cent in 2001 to 13.12 per cent in 2011”, it says in Delhi there has been a similar fall from 14.56 per cent to 11.76 per cent and this trend was borne out in all nine districts.

Among the districts, the highest population of 0-6 child population to total population was 16.76 in North-East, followed by 15.06 in North-West and 14.77 per cent in South. The lowest population of 0-6 was 12 per cent in New Delhi and 12.45 per cent in Central.

Poor sex ratio

As for the overall sex ratio, there has been a substantial increase from 821 in 2001 to 866 in 2011 but Delhi still scores poorly as compared to the national average of 940. “This can only be fully explained upon further study of the complete Census data. It may, however, indicate that a larger proportion of migrants coming to Delhi for work are women as compared to the situation 10 years ago, when there was a tendency for men to come in for work while the women stayed back in the village,” says the report.

The child (0-6) sex ratio has dipped marginally from 868 in 2001 to 866 in 2011. This indicates that while the situation has not appreciably worsened in this regard, more efforts would be needed to bring this ratio in Delhi at par with the national figure of 914.

The child sex ratio was lowest in 2001 in South-West Delhi, which neighbours Haryana. Not only does it continue to be the lowest in this part of the city, it has also fallen further by 10 points. “There is also a substantial fall in New Delhi, South and North Districts,” the report says.

On the literacy front, it says there has been a steady increase over the years with 91 per cent of men and 81 per cent of women being literate. This made for a 5 per cent overall improvement from last time.

Observing that the gap between male and female literacy still persists, the report says it has however gone down 2.53 percentage points to stand at 10.10 percentage points.

With Delhi on the road to stabilisation, the report says the fall in fertility is an “encouraging sign”. “A better overall sex ratio also indicates an overall more balanced situation for women, as is the appreciable increase in the literacy rates. However the marginal fall in the child sex ratio is a matter of concern,” it adds.

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