Infant girl left at ashram doorstep

Udaipur, May 9 (IANS) An infant girl apparently abandoned by her parents was found at the doorstep of a children's home here in yet another grim reminder of the fact that girls are less desirable than boys in Rajasthan.

Employees at Mahesh Ashram, owned and managed by Udaipur-based NGO Maa Bhagwati Vikas Sansthan, found a baby born only half an hour ago Monday morning at the doorstep.

The preference for the male child was highlighted in Aamir Khan's episode "Satyamev Jayate" telecast on Sunday. There have been many incidents in Rajasthan of infant girls being dumped in garbage bins or beside drains.

S.L. Dharmawat of Mahesh Ashram told IANS Wednesday: "We came to know about the baby when the bell installed in the cradle started to ring after a couple of minutes."

An official of the ashram on condition of anonymity said the infant girl was wrapped in a piece of newspaper. "As the skin of the infant was soft, the paper got glued to it and we could not peel it off completely. She was administered vaccines immediately. Now her condition is normal," said the official.

Mahesh Ashram runs two cradles in Udaipur, 400 km from the Rajasthan capital Jaipur.

The official said the delivery apparently occurred in a house. The baby weighs over two kg.

The official added that it appears the baby was abandoned because it was a girl.

Many instances of girls being left abandoned have been reported in the state recently. Dharmawat said: "The ashram at present has two cradles in Udaipur city. It plans to open 16-18 cradles over the next four months in the entire district. Nineteen children are presently living in the ashram. Since the last over five years, a total of 67 children have come here, out whom 43 have already been adopted."

"Though people have started to show interest in adopting a girl child, the percentage in comparison to boys is still very low, at around 20-25 percent," he said.

According to Census 2011, Rajasthan has 883 girls between the age of 0-6 for every 1,000 boys. The child sex ratio in 2001 was 909.

Alarmed over the state's skewed sex ratio, the state government recently announced steps to curb pre-natal sex determination tests at ultrasound clinics.

The steps include increasing the number of health department inspection teams and equipping them with devices like hidden cameras and voice recorders.

The state government has also increased the amount of money given to a person who complains about errant ultrasound clinics.

Aamir Khan, in his programme "Satyamev Jayate", aired Sunday, had highlighted the story of a sting operation done seven years back by two Jaipur based journalists to expose increasing female foeticide cases in four states - Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh.

He said in his show that he would appeal to the Rajasthan chief minister to get the cases against the doctors clubbed together and tried in a fasttrack court. He also appealed to the viewers to support his signature campaign.