“As long as the birth of a girl does not receive the same welcome as that of a boy, so long we should know that India is suffering from partial paralysis” I have read these lines written on the top of a calendar issued by a leading newspaper. Just below these lines , there was a picture of Goddess Laxmi in the middle,with Lord Ganesha and Goddess saraswati on each side. Ironically , India is a country where a Girl child is regarded as an incarnation of Goddess Laxmi, who is a messenger of good fortune and wealth. On the other hand India is also a country with a sex ratio of 940 (as per 2011 census) against the world’s average of 990 ,for a population of 125 crore it’s 7.5 crore less women than men and the only reason behind these grim figures is Female foeticide.
“Foeticide” is an euphemism for “Infanticide”, it’s a heinous crime prevalent in the flunked Indian society. Around 10 million female foetuses have been aborted in the country over the past two decades. Of the 12 million girls born in India , 1 million do not see their first birthdays. Also the child sex ratio (0 to 6 years) is only 914. To put a ban on sex selective abortion, Indian government passed Pre-Conception and Pre-natal Diagnostic Techniques (Regulation and Prevention of misuse) Act in 2004 but the facts suggest that it could not prove as a deterrence against this nefarious act. The scourge of this dwindling sex ratio is appalling. It’s nothing less than a quagmire which can inhibit the growth of Indian society. Taking a cognizance of this issue, a tableau showcasing effusive welcome to the birth of a girl child was included in Republic Day parade 2015 and it has also got a place in the inaugural episode of “satyamev Jayate” with the title “Daughters are precious”.
There are a number of reasons behind female foeticide. First, Parochial mind-set of orthodox indian family. Boys are considered as the bread earner of the family and they only have a right to light the funeral pyre of their parents , such feudal traditions are entrenched in Indian society which discourages giving birth to a girl child. Also, the so-called educated Urban society is not free from this barbaric act of female foeticide , in some cases the problem is more grave than rural areas. Second, tradition of dowry in some societies. Families with limited income can’t afford the liability of Dowry which comes along with a girl child, thus they take the easier route of Female foeticide than increasing their income. Dowry is a malaise promoted by male chauvinistic pigs and no one questions about the value or purpose of this custom. Third, Materialisation or objectification of women in Bollywood movies and songs as highlighted in last episode of “Satyamev Jayate” season 3. Also ,Crime against women like rape, sexual harassment, molestation, verbal abuse, torture, exploitation, gender discrimination, inequality and 100s of social tags generate feudal and abysmal manners towards a girl child just from her birth and imparts her a status of second class citizen which makes her birth a dirty pitch-and-toss game and a girl as an unenviable child.
The solution lies in overhaul of feudal mind-sets. Practices like Dowry which are against the law should be banned completely with proper execution of stringent laws. Ministry of women and child development should start social programmes acknowledging the gravity of issue. The recent initiatives launched by Prime minister Narendra Modi in Panipat i.e. “Beti Bachao , Beti padhao” (Save girl child, educate girl child) and Sukanya samridhi yojana (Girl child prosperity scheme) are quite in consonance with addressing the issue of female foeticide. State run programmes like “Ladli Laxmi Yojana “ by Madhya Pradesh government should be monitored well in terms of implementation to make it more effective and efficient. It’s not a time of mud-slinging on each other, but for a collective and well-organised approach to give girls their birthrights.
So, female foeticide is a festering sore on the so-called civilized Indian society which needs an antibiotic in the form of indefatigable collective effort for its cure. We need to understand the words of Carl Sandburg, “A baby is a God’s opinion that life should go on” and must not forget that “A daughter is the knot that ties the family together” .