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Monday, April 4, 2011

India's Disappearing Daughters

Somebody once said that the safest place on earth is a mother’s womb.

However, the results from the latest Indian Census seem to negate the above statement. The biggest shock of this census is the decline in the child gender ratio at 914 girls (under the age of six) for every 1,000 boys. This is the lowest since Independence and is a steep drop from a high of 976 girls in the 1961 census. This is not just alarming, but Murder!!!

Female foeticide is as prevalent in literate urban India as it is in the rural side. The irony is that we as a country worship women – as mothers, as sisters, as goddesses – more so than many other countries: it’s ingrained in our cultures. “Mere Paas Maa Hai” is more than a filmy line –it is one of the most powerful lines ever made and it appeals to every Indian in a way no foreigner can comprehend; Raksha Bandhan is celebrated as much for brothers as it is for sisters; Durga, Lakshmi and Saraswati are worshipped with religious ferocity across the length and breadth of the World’s rising new Super Power. Then how is that we resort to such inhuman treatment for the Devi, even before she’s born into our family?

Centuries of social conditioning have put the Son on a pedestal, while relegating the Daughter to under it. As a result, a mother who bears a son has a higher social standing than one who bears a daughter. This needs to stop. Women are the caretakers of our life – as mothers, as home makers, as colleagues - awareness need to be built to change our society to a gender-equal one.

The dowry system is seen to be another major cause of the female foeticide. The Dowry system is ingrained in our society. The concept of the Arranged Marriage feeds to this premise. With the rising number of divorces nowadays, India is slowly moving towards matrimony that is not ‘fixed’, but favored, and thus hopefully bring in the demise of the Dowry. But it will still take a lot many more suns when Dowry as a concept will be abolished from Indian soils.

Did you know that an doctor earns a paltry amount of around Rs 5000/- in Bangalore after his MBBS? I’ve been in Bangalore for 7 years now and I know that Rs 5K is nothing here. For an MBBS to stand on his feet, he needs to do an MD and even a super specialization after that. The irony is the number of MD seats in India is in a measly number in comparison to the rising number of MBBS students. This serious supply - demand skew jacks up the prices for the existing MD seats (last I heard, it’s about Rs. 60-75 Lakhs for the basic seat), taking it beyond the reach of many well qualified MBBS students. How can you expect a doctor to follow ethics when his basic livelihood is in question? Hence it’s not very surprising he resorts to the illegal pre natal gender determination tests to substantiate his already low income.

As citizens, we must understand that female foeticide is nothing short of murder. The authorities has made the right noises by establishing laws and help-lines to tackle female foeticide. It is up to us, as citizens, to bring in the next level of change, starting with our mindset, to end this social stigma.

For the India that we are, for the India that we’ll become and most importantly, for the India that we aspire to be, let us save our girls.


  1. very inspiring post. well written. nature works in peculiar ways. a deadly virus is eating away the y chromosome necessary for male birth. and in a million years from now only women will be there.as per latest report.

  2. the fight is against our mind sets...

  3. Female foeticide is rampant in Punjab, Haryana. There the ratio is even lower than the national average (around 850 or so girls per 1000 boys). Which goes to show that there must be a lot of illegal sex determination and girl child killing going on in those states.

  4. why r we still doing this? When will we grow up? People who kill females should never been given daughters in the first place!

  5. I had done a project in college years back on the same issue. Its been years since that time, and things are the same even till date!It's depressing!

  6. Painful truth! The sad part is we keep pointing our fingers to the BPL (below poverty line) group. We blame it on the people hailing from villages and some areas of Rajasthan and Bihar. But the truth is that female foeticide is as much thriving in the urban areas. Well have you seen the movie MATRUBHUMI.....though it just showed women as a sex and child generating toy still its a good watch.

  7. I didn't take this very seriously and my comments may also be a bit wayward. I hope I dont offend people too much.. for one, I know Raj will take this with a smile.

    1. What's the big deal about gender imbalance. A day will come where marriage market will be filled with male surplus and every lady will go at a premium. Those days the guys will realize the importance of having enough ladies around.

    2. With this post, Raj proved that he is THE womanizer. I still haven't forgotten buddy :)

    3. How do we trust the census numbers? Maybe many parents did not declare their daughters as we are still conservative about giving our ladies details to strangers.

    4. When I think like a father, more than the dowry system i feel the pinch of having a daughter due to the custom that she will get married and leave us one day. I would prefer a son as he will stay with us forever. "Beti paraya dhan hothi hai" they say na.

    5. Nowadays we see a lot of Mallika Sherawats and Poonam Pandeys around, so maybe parents dont want to have daughters due to that.

    Just random comments. Maybe Raj can respond just to the second one. :)

  8. good one.i cant agree with you there entire;y though.........a mbbs grad will anywhere earn a salary of 25,000 rupees unless he is into any kind of training program. a government job will fetch you more, but yeah as you say to settle in really they need a post graduation degree.

    i am a doc doing my post grad now in radiology.
    also just because they need money no doctor is going to say yeah this is a female baby please go and kill. that is too idiotic to think.

    and what money you think u generate by sex determination - cause most of the people who seek gender of a child is from very poor background.
    so you cant just say prenatal sex determination is the only fact by which female census has come down is absurd.

  9. first to say these people dont even have money to afford for a good prenatal scanning then where they will determine the sex of the baby?

    the census just denotes the failure of the projects of government reaching the really rural areas. its a internal failure. it is make us remember that unaware uneducated people are still the and yeah poverty stills exists beyond true levels

  10. Such an archaic mindset is beyond my comprehension. Female infanticide leads to a skewed sex ratio and crimes against women hit north!

    And a Doctors paltry salary is no excuse for such a crime.

  11. very well said..i am all for the cause of disappering daughters in india

  12. Agree with what Purba says....you have touched a serious and relevant topic here.

  13. This is the simple truth of the two faced lie that our society is. Worship the Goddess and kill the girl child. Sad but true and yes we still have many million suns to see before things get better.

  14. Thanks Pramodji...:)

    U said it Sumukh...it is our mindsets we need to start with :)

    Yes Angry Ganu, u're right...in fact there r some villages whr thr r no girl children at all...

  15. today in many ways it seems instead of progressing we are regressing into the stone age. We have today highly successful women in positions of CEOs, politics, art etc. and at the same time poor women who are sexually exploited, forced into labour etc. Is this progress?

  16. Thanks Maitriyee :)

    Hey ConfusedYippee, I agree it is sad tht it still happens..

    Hi JSincro, the sad fact is that stats show it's worse now...

    Hey Red, actually female foeticide is as rampant in urban India as it is in the rural... hvnt caught tht movie yet...definitely on my list nw :)

  17. Outspoken u r, V dada :)... thnx 4 ur thoughts yaar...as with my last post, I'll respond 2 u with the same smile...;)

    Thanks Vysh@The Colourful Eyes :)

  18. Hey Critics, maybe u're right..just do check on Bangalore though.. hv a few mbbs friends here who's been complainin of really bad pay..gt this figure frm them.. I'm told it's quite high in kerala, saudi n few places in the north east.. maybe u cn correct me here...

    Another shockin note is tht female foeticide is as rampant in urban literate India as it is in the rural side..I had the same misconception as u in thinkin tht this is an issue of rural side, whn it is not...

    Thnx fr ur comments though, critics... I cn see u're really involved in this discussion, esp on the doctor's part...hope i didnt offend any sensibilities here tho :)

  19. I agree entirely, Purba....

    Thanks Pooja...I'm with u 2 on this....:)

    Yes Alka, think it's a very relevant topic that cn slowly cripple this great country of ours. We hv 2 act..now

    Ironically, it is true, Rituparna..thnx fr goin thru my post :)

  20. Thnx fr goin thru my post, Sanjeev.. i personally believe there is progress bt it's more of one step forward, but two steps backwards..hopefully, it'll get better :)

  21. A question that seems to have been totally ignored is how strong and confident do parents of a girl child feel? While society in India has indeed put sons on a pedestal, this may take time to change. But there can be no reason for the law to also discriminate - have you ever looked at the Succession Act and seen the very very weak position of the parents of daughters vis-a-vis the parents of sons? At least our legal system should not discourage parents of girls - we need greater gender equality urgently before societal changes can happen.

  22. Hi Sahaas, right on.. we definitely need greater gender equality...see how culture engineering brought about an environment of gender equality n equal opportunities in most private companies ... if we cn recreate tht on a social frame, nuthin lik it..yes, it will take time.....

    thnx fr goin thru my post, Sahaas:)

  23. Yeah, this is an alarming issue which needs an immediate concern of the society. A good act of bringing the issue in notice of the public.

  24. good point you have raised here...and what you said about mbbs seat and its high price is all right...but little correction here,,,MBBS cannot do sex determination...it require practice and training as radiologist to do that. I know this because I am MBBS myself and I have worked with radiologist.

  25. good post...u hit it in the right spot...the problem is not only in India...China is even worse..and this disease has no easy remedies...we need to find a way to educate and spread awareness in the mass...

  26. Thanks Rachit :)

    I guess I'll take ur word fr it thn Kunjan ..thnx fr goin thru my post :)

    Thanks Sub..totally agree with u SUB :)