Women In J&K Grappling With Fertility Crisis

Representational Photo

NFH 2019-2020 Survey Shows Fertility Rate Down To 1.4 Percent

Srinagar: The erstwhile state of Jammu & Kashmir has hit a gruelling demographic milestone in the last two years as the total fertility rate among women has slipped below the replacement-level by 0.6 percent.

As per the National Family Health Survey, the replacement level for the fertility rate has been fixed at 2.1 percent, below which, if the rate slips then the fertility crisis is probably in place and also explains the point at which a population exactly replaces itself from one generation to the next.

These figures were placed according to the findings of phase two of the National Family Health Survey (NFHS-5). The Government of India on November 24 released the factsheets of key indicators on population, reproductive and child health, family welfare, nutrition and others for India including J&K, clubbed under phase two of the 2019-21 NFHS-5.

As per the National Family Health Survey data for 2019-21, the fertility rate in J&K has slipped down to 1.4 percent in the 2019-20 NFHS-5 survey from 2.0 percent in the NFHS-4 2015-16. As per the newly unveiled survey, among larger states in India, it has also stated that the highest decline of 0.6 percent in fertility rate between the last survey in 2015-16 and the latest one was recorded in J&K.

The survey further states that in J&K, female sterilization method in which female fallopian tubes are blocked to prevent pregnancy have also declined from 24.4 percent in NFHS-4 to 21.1 percent in NFHS-5 and male sterilisation from 0.4 percent in NFHS-4 to 0.3 percent in NFHS-5.

Notably, the survey has also revealed some vicious figures in terms of early marriage in the valley. As per NFHS-5 survey, the women aged 20-24 years who are married before the age 18 years was recorded at 4.5 percent that has slipped from 8.7 percent in the NFHS-4 survey.

For Men aged 25-29 years married before the age of 21 years, the report stated that in the survey the figures stood at 8.5 percent that has slipped 2.0 percent from the NFHS-4 survey that was recorded at 10.5 percent.

“Adolescent fertility rate for women aged 15-19 years was recorded at 10 percent in J&K In NFHS-5 survey,” the report reads.

Pertinently, the erstwhile state is followed by six states of Maharashtra, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Nagaland and Tripura where the Total Fertility Rate (TFR) was recorded at 1.7 percent.

Six more states have a TFR of 1.8 which includes Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Arunachal Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Odisha and five states have a TFR of 1.9 that includes Haryana, Assam, Gujarat, Uttarakhand and Mizoram.

The lowest TFR was recorded in Sikkim where the rate stood 1.1 percent. While Punjab’s fertility rate has remained the same, Kerala and Tamil Nadu are the only states in India where fertility rate went up, though marginally, to 1.8 in the 2019-21 survey.

The survey has also revealed that at the National level, the Total Fertility rate was recorded at 2.0 for the NFHS-5 2019-21 survey that has slipped 0.2 percent from the above replacement level rate of 2.2 percent in NFHS-4 2015-16 survey.

As per the data available in the latest yearly Census of India report—which many refer to as “canary in the coal mine”—the total fertility rate in Jammu & Kashmir has collapsed from an all-time high of 2.400 in 2005 to a record low of 1.600 in 2018, raising the strong apprehensions of an existential crisis for the Kashmir lineage.

The infertility rate has soared in Kashmir, especially over the past two decades where it was first recorded at 12 percent, and has now soared up to 18 percent.

It is pertinent to mention here that the NFHS-5 fieldwork for Jammu & Kashmir was conducted from July 1, 2019 to January 30, 2020 and the Information was gathered from 18,086 households, 23,037 women, and 3,087 men.

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Zaid Bin Shabir

Zaid Bin Shabir is a special correspondent at Kashmir Observer. He tweets @Zaidbinshabir

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