Thursday, January 26, 2006

Female infanticide in INDIA - ramifications, revelations and dilemma for the murgha

"India is missing about 10 million daughters since the widespread use of ultrasound, estimates a new study."

This strikingly disturbing fact caught my unguarded attention when reported by an article in New Scientist. The research is based on a survey of 1.1 million households in 1998 ad was carried out by Dr Prabhat Jha of St Michael's Hospital at the University of Toronto, Canada, and Dr Rajesh Kumar of the Postgraduate Institute of Medical Research in Chandigarh, India. The 'shock and awe' factor sinks in further deeper when you look at the births on the basis of gender. The study reveals an increasing tendency to choose boys when firstborn has been a girl. In such cases, the sex ratio is just 759 girls for every 1000 boys. More alarmingly, for a third child, just 719 girls were born per 1000 boys, if both the older children were girls.

This practice of female infanticide is not something new in poor and under-developed regions of third world. Marina Porras has indicated in her study, "Female Infanticide and Foeticide", that such practice occurs "due to the preference for male babies and from the low value associated with the birth of females". Reading such figures would make one think that this would be a practice in rural arears carried out by uneducated masses who are forced into these circumstances due to poverty, economics disparity and Indian custom of dowry. The reality is that this evil is more prevalent in the urban centers of the educated elite of Indian society. Scott Baldauf reported in Christian Science Monitor that this practice is most common among India's elite, who can afford "multiple trips to an ultrasound clinic", and the "hushed-up abortion" of an unwanted girl.

The disturbing use of ultrasound technoloy aiding the ancient believes and custom of female infanticide is making a true murgha out of the much-praised benefits of globalization and our much-acclaimed 'technology era'. Thomas Friedman's concept of explaining globalizationn through "Lexus and the Olive Tree" is challenged by such heinous practices. It cannot be ignored that the forces of globalization, availibity of technology and the entrepreneurial drive of Indian doctors has entered into a succesfull collusion with the Indian psyche of preferring males over females. Mr. Friedman, being the great ambassador of globalizationn and praising it further more in his new book, "The World is Flat", has conveniently overlooked the by-products of globalization in such areas. True that productivity and entrepreneurship has increased in countries like India through the "Ten Forces that Flattened the World", but what about the lack of similar increase in the Human Development Index in such societies? While we are all busy discussing outsourcing, offshoring, free movement of capital, free trade and its implications; we have easily closed our eyes towards such horrors taking place in this cyber-age of ours. It is, indeed, hard to appreciate the mammoth growth of call-centers and IT companies in New Delhi's suburbs when you are told that "the number of girl babies is 845 per 1,000 boys" in the same high-rent suburbs. Great times, indeed!

So who is the murgha here and who will be enduring the ramifications of using technology for the means of female fecticide?

I will let you guys determine that!!


At 1/30/2006 2:24 AM,

Sorry Mujeeb, but your comment had inappropriate language and cannot be displayed!! 

Posted by Abrar


At 3/09/2006 1:28 AM,

You have rightly pointed out that the practice of female infanticide is more prevalent in urban India. It's really a shame that the so called educated elite is living in a time warp. 

Posted by ashwin




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