By Our Reporter
SHILLONG: Vice President Dr Mohammad Hamid Ansari expressed concern over the declining sex ratio in India even as he lauded Meghalaya and Mizoram for providing the silver lining in an otherwise dismal picture across the rest of the country.
“It is necessary to examine underlying sources of the problem. Rights, responsibilities and the opportunities of individuals and needs and priorities of both women and men must be given equal weightage in planning and decision making,” Ansari said while delivering his address during the 19th Convocation of the North Eastern Hills University (NEHU) on Friday.
Ansari was critical of the decline in the country’s sex ratio in the age group of zero to six years at 914 as per 2011 Census. However, Mizoram and Meghalaya were the exceptions with child sex ratios of 971 and 970 respectively, he mentioned.
Observing that participation of women in the political decision making at the middle and higher levels was abysmally low, the Vice President said, “As it stands now, women hold less than 11 per cent of the seats in our Parliament. The situation is worse in the case of state assemblies.”
“Women hold less than ten per cent of ministerial positions at the Centre with only one female Cabinet Minister. There have not been many women judges in the Supreme Court either,” he said, adding, “Only five women judges have made it to the apex court since Independence.”
“The principle of gender equality, and of affirmative action to ensure it, is writ large in the Constitution and has been reinforced by the Supreme Court rulings. Societal reality however is not in consonance with it,” Ansari remarked.
Referring to the World Development Report 2012, released by the World Bank ten days ago, Ansari said, “Besides calling for action in addressing human capital issues, closing earning and productivity gaps between women and men, and giving women greater voice within households and societies, the report for the first time seeks limiting the perpetuation of gender inequality across generations.”
On the school dropout issue, he quoted the annual Status of Education Report 2010 that showed 5.9 per cent of girls in the age group of 11 to 14 years were out of school across rural India.
“Though there has been rapid improvement in female literacy according to the 2011 Census, however, there still exists a gender gap of 16.7 per cent,” Ansari pointed out.
Apart from the Vice President, other dignitaries who were present at the Convocation included Governor RS Mooshahary, Chief Minister Dr Mukul Sangma, NEHU Chancellor Prof. MGK Menon and Vice-Chancellor Prof. AN Rai among others.
Altogether 7,916 candidates (2,492 in person and 5,484 in absentia) were conferred their degrees during the Convocation.
52 candidates were conferred PhD, 28 received their M Phil degrees and 788 post graduates and 7048 bachelors including gold medal winners were also conferred their degrees at the Convocation.