Health in Mr. Siddaramaiah’s Karnataka – Is it a Role Model? A Look at the True Picture

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During the recent election campaigns, Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah has propounded Karnataka, under him, has emerged as a ‘model of growth’. Health is one of the key aspects of growth, and an indicator of the quality of life. Let us analyse how the state has done on certain aspects of health.

Declining Sex Ratio: Positive to Negative

In the National Family Health Survey (NFHS)- 3 report from 2005-06, the sex ratio of Karnataka was a positive 1028 females per 1000 males, which means there were more women in Karnataka than men. Now let us look at the latest figures from the NFHS-4 report from 2015-16 in the figure below:


Figure 1:

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The above data reveals the following trends:

  • Total Sex Ratio has declined from of 1028 to 979 females per 1000 males. The recent survey figures show a trend, which was once positive has declined towards a negative trend.
  • The major contributing factor to a positive trend in the total sex ratio was the rural sex ratio, which was at 1054 females per 1000 males in NFHS-3 (2005-06). This figure has declined to 990 females/1000 males in NFHS-4 (2015-16).
  • Another major trend here is the declining sex ratio in the urban areas, which is surprising since urban areas are more developed. Considering that 44% households in Karnataka are in urban areas, a decline in sex ratio even in the urban areas, is concerning, and not an ideal picture of growth or development in the state.

Infant Mortality Rate

If we look at the Infant Mortality Rate, per 1,000 live births (IMR) as per the 2016 state-wise available data, nine states appear to have been doing better than Karnataka.

Infant Mortality Rate per 1,000 live births (IMR) 2016:

Sl. No. State IMR
1 Goa 8
2 Kerala 10
3 Manipur 11
4 Nagaland 12
5 Sikkim 16
6 Tamil Nadu 17
7 Delhi 18
8 Maharashtra 19
9 Punjab 21
10 Jammu & Kashmir 24
11 Karnataka 24

Source: http://niti.gov.in/content/infant-mortality-rate-imr-1000-live-births#

Immunisation: Percentage of Children Fully Immunised

As per NFHS 4 (2015-16), 13 states have had a better record than Karnataka in terms of full immunisation of children. (Table below):

Sl. No. State % of children
1 Punjab 89.1
2 Goa 88.4
3 West Bengal 84.4
4 Sikkim 83
5 Tripura 82.1
6 Odisha 78.6
7 Chhattisgarh 76.4
8 Tamil Nadu 69.7
9 Himachal 69.5
10 Telangana 68.1
11 Delhi 66.4
12 Manipur 65.9
13 Andhra Pradesh 65.3
14 Karnataka 62.6

Water pollution: a non-issue for the Karnataka government

Bellandur Lake is an old and major lake located in eastern part of Bengaluru city, with frequent reports of pollution, frothing and fires. This is also the case with other lakes situated in the state.

If one can remember, the Bellandur Lake first showed signs of toxic froth in May 2015. This escalated to a fire from the lake in February 2017, which has happened multiple times now. Here is an excerpt from the NDTV report from February 2017:

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As recent as yesterday, April 11, 2018, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) reportedly slammed the Karnataka government for its inaction over the Bellandur Lake incidents and formed a committee to inspect the lakes.

Here is an excerpt from the PTI story of the same:

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The NGT bench went on to the extent of saying that “The action plan submitted by the state contains incorrect and misleading information.” It seems that even multiple incidents of water pollution are not waking up the Karnataka government.


On the above-mentioned basic indicators of health and social welfare Karnataka clearly lags behind multiple states. The Bellandur lake issue as a symbol of neglect of urban health, among others, only goes on to show that as far as health is concerned, Mr. Siddaramaiah’s proclamations of providing a role model to other states are far from reality.