India: 45 Million Women Missing

May 24th, 2011
in econ_news

India protest 1 Econintersect by Sanjeev Kulkarni:  While India is justifiably jubilant on the recent on winning the first battle against corruption, it needs to solve the problem of its 45 million disappearing girls. A recent article in Times Of India, How we became a nation of baby girl killers? says, "In India, cultural and economic factors make parents desire a son, and in many instances the couple keeps on reproducing just to have a son."

Follow up:

The issues are far more complex; the dowry system has not been rooted out, availably of inexpensive sonography equipment allows pre-natal determination of sex and the consequential tendency to abort female fetus. The latest 2011 census highlights this scourge. Mumbai, India's  financial hub, has one of the highest per capita income in the country; yet exhibits only 838 women per 1,000 men. Many attribute this to the migrant population which comes to Mumbai from all over India for work, leaving the families behind in villages. However Average Maharashtra of 925 females per 1000 males is no cause for cheer. 


As an example female at birth, to male sex ratio in US is 952 females per 1000 males; ratios in Europe are similar to US. Compare this with the average in India is 914 per 1000 males.  China is worst than India with 840 females per 1000 males. See Wikipedia.


For a population of 1.2 billion people this translates to approximately staggering cumulative 45 million female fetus abortions


Legislation seems to have not worked in Maharshtra. It has one of the most stringent laws against pre natal determination of sex; yet the practice continues.


The State of Haryana has the worst sex ratios in India,  877 females per 1,000 males. But there is cause for cheer The last census in 2001 showed the sex ratio to be 861. Within a decade, the sex ratio has increased by 16. Affirmative action and enforcement of law is reversing the trend of female fetus abortion.  With a ban on sex determination tests, health officials in Haryana had conducted over 11,600 searches in private clinics and health centres to see if there was any violation of the Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (PNDT) Act. 


The state has come out with yet another scheme of Improving sex ratio, one toilet at a time. As per the Times of India report,  Count the number of public toilets for women in India, or the availability of something as basic as low-cost sanitary napkins, and the invisibility of women's needs becomes apparent.  But as campaigns like the " No Toilet, No Bride" effort in Haryana make an impact, India's women are beginning to demand basic rights. 

Sources:  Reuters, Bloomberg and The Times of India   
Sanjeev Kulkarni is an entrepreneur based in Pune, India. He worked for large organizations in board level position before venturing on his own. He is currently involved as an investor in health care software company and as an investor, mentor in an automation company. Very widely traveled, he has experience of working in different geographical areas with people of varying nationalities. He did his BS from Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi

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