The girls are less in number than the boys in India. The statisticians of the world have observed that it is a natural phenomenon that throughout the world in almost all countries the number of girls is slightly less than the number of boys. The number of boys vary from 103 to 108 per 100 girls. Whereas I cannot tell that the statisticians have revealed complete truth regarding the sex ratio, we have no other alternative except to believe them. The figure may not be exactly correct, but the fact remains that the girls are definitely less than the boys in number.
In India the latest statistical report states that there are about 943 females per 1000 males (106 males per 100 females). This may not be the exactly correct figure, but it indicates that the girls are definitely less in number than the boys. However the fact which makes any sensible Indian afraid is that the number of girls are gradually decreasing.
Since it is a natural phenomenon that the girls are less in number throughout the world why do the sensible Indians bother about the decrease in the sex ratio of girls per boys? In answer to this question it can be said that if we leave this issue completely to Nature, Nature may maintain the balance spontaneously. But if we interfere with the Nature it may lead to havoc.
Let us hypothetically imagine what may happen in future if the number of girls will steadily go on decreasing:
The number of boys will become gradually more and more. So the number of cases of rape, gang rape, kidnapping and murder etc will gradually increase.
Due to lack of adequate number of girls gradually more and more number of boys will be compelled to lead the life of a bachelor. The parents will undergo much stress and strain in finding a marriage mate for their son.
As multiple boys will be readily available, number of divorce and extra marital affairs will go on increasing.
The ideology of Draupadi of the Mahabharata era will become popular. It may so happen that the idea of “several brothers marrying one wife” may be popularized and legalized.
In the worst case several neighbors may have to share one wife.
The above-mentioned hypothetical situations may lead to many more hypothetical social, legal and religious complications.
However if we leave to the Nature, it has its own way of maintaining the equilibrium of male:female sex ratio approximately at 1:1. But if we interfere with Nature, the above-mentioned hypothetical disturbances may happen.
Mania to give birth to a male child is prevalent to a negligible extent through out the world. But it is prevalent to a dangerous extent in India. Parents in India resort to sex-selective (gender-selective) abortion in order to give birth to a male child. The facilities for ultrasound examination has been available in India since 1988. Prenatal sex determination by ultrasound examination is easily available throughout India since 1990. Other methods are also available for prenatal sex determination. But they are cumbersome. Hence not popular.
The pregnant mother at about 18 to 20 weeks of gestation is subjected to ultrasound examination. The sex of the intrauterine fetus can be determined by the experts with 99.9% accuracy. Then the abortion can be performed by an expert gynecologist with 99.9% safety. In case of sex-selective abortion usually the female fetus is aborted. First pregnancy is rarely aborted. If the parents already have one or two or more girl children, they long for a male child and go for termination of female fetus after intrauterine sex determination. Such sex-selective abortion is blamed to be the major cause (only cause?) of decreasing trend of girl population in India.
The Govt of India as well as the state Govts have taken strong steps to prevent prenatal sex determination and sex-selective abortion. They have formed the PNDT Act 1994 (with amendments 2002) which prohibits prenatal or preconception sex determination and sex-selective abortion. Those who will be involved in such activities are liable for legal punishment.
Although the PNDT Act was formed in 1994 its practical implementation was difficult. In spite of the act the prenatal sex-determination and sex-selective abortion used to be performed in an illegal and concealed way. Hence the decreasing trend of girls went on in India. However due to public awareness and stricture from the Govt the decreasing trend of the girl population has been almost controlled since last two years. This is matter of consolation. But still the number of girls are less than the number of boys.
The Indian parents’ mania for a male child has reduced to some extent in educated people of urban area. But it is still prevalent to a major extent amongst the uneducated people of the urban area and the general people of the rural areas.
A family is deemed to be complete if it consists of father, mother, one son and one daughter. Most probably rarely there may be few Indian parents who are wholeheartedly satisfied having only sons or only daughters. Even at present the Indian parents, who are blessed with one son and one daughter, are considered to be extremely fortunate. Those, who have only sons, consider themselves to be manage-ably fortunate, and those, who have only daughters, consider themselves to be unfortunate.
Many may disagree with my above-mentioned opinion and may say that they are fully satisfied having single or multiple daughters only. But if there would be a perfect machine to study the core of their minds, most probably the machine would detect in them dissatisfaction varying from major to a minor degrees.
This does not at all mean that the Indian parents do not love daughters. In fact most of them (almost all) love daughters more than the sons. But most of them (almost all) long for at least one son. Desire to have a son is due the Indian society and the social customs. The social customs are such that even the most educated man of modern India is unable to make himself completely free from them even-if he wants to do so.
However in modern India concept of “one couple one child” is gradually becoming popular. Sensible persons are satisfied with one child irrespective of the gender of the child. Now-a-days there some Indian couples who have only one daughter and do not want to have a second child. Such couples are only a few. On careful interrogation you will find that many out of such parents do not dare to go for the second pregnancy, because they are afraid that it may come out to be a daughter. This indirectly means they are ready to go for second pregnancy if they are sure to get a son. Such parents hate to go for prenatal sex-determination and sex-selective abortion. But we cannot say that they are free from son-mania.
There are many reasons for son-mania in India, which I do not want to elaborate in this article. “Whether somebody does or does not admit it” is immaterial, but the fact remains that son-mania will not completely disappear from India in near future. “How many years it will take to completely disappear” is extremely difficult to predict.
In the Indian families in the present era the relationship between father and son is sometimes not very good. Some of the sons are not on talking terms with their fathers. Some are only on formal talking terms. Many do not stay with their parents, because they have to stay away from home with or without their wife and children at the place where they have their job inside or outside India. Some stay away from their parents due to difference of opinion or ideologies and some due to various other reasons. Most probably there are only a few families where the father and son are on perfect ideal amicable terms.
Things are not so between father and daughter. Usually they are on amicable terms. Rarely otherwise. Similarly mother and son are usually on amicable terms. Rarely otherwise. But despite the above facts of observation the charm of Indian family life is that at times of need and in adverse situations they usually forget their difference of opinion and fight against the adversities unitedly. In adverse situations the son as well as the daughter help the parents. However due to social, biological, physical and other factors, which favor the son more, the son is more helpful to the parents in adverse situations irrespective of whether he stays with the parents or away from the parents (even outside India).
From the above discussions it is evident that it is extremely difficult for most of the Indian parents to keep their mind completely free from the syndrome of son-mania. So long as son-mania prevails, sex-selective abortion will also persist in India. It may be reduced to some extent. But cannot be completely eradicated.
It is a good news that the ratio of girls to boys has not further reduced since last two years. We should not be very happy with this, because ideally the number of girls should either be equal to or slightly more than the boys. But with all possible efforts of the Govt the girl population is not increasing.
Since prenatal and preconception sex-determination and sex-selective abortion is considered to be the major cause of gradual reduction of girl:boy sex-ratio in India, many doctors who are involved in such affairs are arrested and legally punished. Govt is planning to take more stringent actions against such doctors. Such actions and efforts of the Govt are really praise-worthy.
Whereas I wholeheartedly agree that the doctors who are involved in the illegal and filthy practice of prenatal sex-determination and sex-selective abortion should be punished, I wonder how many parents who go to the doctors for such activities are punished?
Govt is highly justified in imparting legal punishment on such doctors. I herewith request all the doctors not to involve in such illegal filthy practice at all. Such practice of a few doctors puts the entire medical profession into blame.
But even-if the entire medical profession remains away from such practice, still the girl population in India may not increase due to the following reasons:
Prenatal sex-determination is done by means of some unscientific country methods of calculation in rural areas of India even in this scientific age. The accuracy of predictions by such unscientific methods is doubtful, but sometimes these predictions come out to be true (by chance and coincidence), which encourages people to go for these methods.
Sometimes people depend on astrological predictions for prenatal gender determination. However such practice is very rare.
By some means or other if the parents come to know that the fetus is female, they go on requesting doctor after doctor for termination of pregnancy. They also offer a good amount of money to the doctors and try to motivate them to perform the sex-selective abortion. If the doctors do not comply with their request, they go to some quacks and get the fetus aborted.
It is beyond my knowledge whether there are quacks who possess ultrasound machines, but there are many quacks in rural as well as in urban areas who conduct abortions. These quacks due to their faulty unscientific techniques of abortion sometimes terminate not only the fetus but also the life of the mother thereby doubly reducing the female population in India. Leave aside the sex-selective abortion, ordinary cases of abortions usually in rural areas especially of unmarried girls (rarely widows and divorcees) are conducted by quacks by crude, faulty and unscientific methods and some of these cases meet death. This may also attribute to the reduction of female sex in India.
In rural areas the parents neglect the treatment of female children when they become sick thereby intentionally causing death of the child. The father-in-law, mother-in-law as well as the husband intentionally neglect the treatment of the female patients as a result of which the lady dies. Poverty sometimes compels the family to neglect the treatment of male as well as female patients. But it is more so with the female sex. Sometimes the parents kill the female child after birth. Of course the cruel facts described in this paragraph rarely occur in the urban areas and educated families in rural areas.
The purpose of the above discussions is that the female:male sex ratio in India will not increase unless all the above factors are controlled. Punishment on the doctors who involve in the filthy illegal act of prenatal sex-determination and sex-selective abortion is highly justified. But the Govt not taking any significant action against the other factors is equally or more highly unjustified. Especially not taking any legal action against any of the parents who opt for and request the doctors for prenatal sex-determination and sex-selective abortion is not at all justified.
In this connection it is now high-time for the Govt and also the Judiciary of India to consider who is the real culprit? The doctors who are involved in prenatal sex-determination and sex-selective abortion; the parents who go to the doctors and request the doctors to conduct such procedures; or the son-mania syndrome which drives the parents to proceed on the path of the brutal act of murdering their own girl children before their birth?
I think the Govt should better utilize their energy and resources to find out definite ways and means to remove son-mania from the mind of the Indians rather than formulating more and more stringent methods of legal punishment to the doctors and/or the parents.
By Dr Narayan Udgata