September 21, 2019

India’s Disappearing Daughters

In India, the country has a female president and men revere female goddesses. But India is no haven for women. Exactly the opposite! According to current estimates, Indian men outnumber women by nearly 40 million. The startling gap is the result of gendercide. Nearly 50,000 female fetuses are aborted every month and untold numbers of baby girls are abandoned or murdered.

Why is there such deadly discrimination against girls?

Part of the answer is money. Girls are a financial burden to their parents, who must pay expensive dowries to marry them off. The dowry is a cultural tradition and the single biggest reason that Indians prefer boys. Until 30 years ago, India’s sex ratio was reasonable. Then in 1974, Delhi’s prestigious All India Institute of Medical Sciences came out with a study which said sex-determination tests were a boon for Indian women. It said that women no longer needed to produce endless children to have the right number of sons and it encouraged the determination and elimination of female fetuses as an effective tool of population control.

Recently, a woman was raped by a small group of men on an Indian bus. What makes it so sad is that in the New Delhi area where the rape occurred, there are now approximately 15 million more men than women. The current population of India is 1.220 billion people and it is the second most populous country in the world. More than 50% of India’s population is below the age of 25 and over 65% below the age of 35. Every year, India adds more people than any other nation in the world.

Some of the reasons for India’s rapidly growing population are poverty, illiteracy, high fertility rate, and a rapid decline in death rates. Because of the growing population, an ever increasing mass of land is taken out of agriculture. The forests have already been reduced to less than the minimum required for a healthy environment. It is estimated that if the present trends in population growth continue, in about 50 years there will be such a shortage of drinking water that people will start dying of thirst. Already the water table has fallen in many places. Many rivers are badly polluted and the air pollution is faring no better. Delhi and several other big cities in India have gained the dubious distinction of being among the most polluted places on earth.

I know of no easy answer. Gendercide in India is no better than abortion in the United States or Russia. Serious efforts may have to be made on the part of the government in India to encourage smaller families. How they go about this will be the subject of much debate. After the tidal wave hit Bangladesh, some observers noted that it would take less than two weeks of population growth to replace the 250,000 people that were drowned. When one is dealing with such massive numbers, it becomes no small problem to come up with a solution that works.

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Written by
Donald Wittmer

DONALD WITTMER is a retired business executive who held key roles in the automotive and banking sectors. For a time, he also served as a Fiscal Agency Manager for the Detroit branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago. He received his undergraduate degree from Cincinnati's Xavier University, an M.A. in business management from Central Michigan University, and earned certification in bank operations from the School of Banking at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. A husband, father, and grandfather, he teaches part-time at the Kent Place School for Girls in Summit, New Jersey.

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Written by Donald Wittmer
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