The Demographic Structure of the Indian Society

The Demographic Structure of the Indian Society

Question

What is meant by the sex ratio? What are some of the implications of a declining sex ratio? Do you feel that parents still prefer to have sons rather than daughter? What in your opinion could be some of the reasons for this preference?

Answer

Number of females per thousand males in a given area at a specified time period is called sex ratio. It is an important indicator of gender balance in the population. Historically, all over the world it has been found that there are slightly more females than males in most countries despite the fact that slightly more male babies are born than female ones. viz. 943 to 952 female babies for every 1000 males. In context to India this ratio is declining continuously for more than a century. The census of 2001 reveals that sex-ratio of all age groups is 933 per thousand and child sex-ratio (0-6 years) is 927 per thousand male babies. It is really a cause of concern.

Yes, Parents still prefer to have son rather than daughter as it is evident from day-to-day media reports of foeticides, infanticides and on abortion cases. It is surprising that such preference has even no relation with poverty because had it been so, the states like Pubjab, Haryana, Chandigarh, Delhi and Maharashtra would have the highest child sex ratio Instead, the census of 2001 reveals that these are states with the lowest (i.e. 950 female babies per 1000 male babies) sex ratios. So we can state categorically that the problem of selective abortions is not due to poverty or ignorance or lack of resources. We all people know that Pre-Natal Diagnostic techniques (Regulation and preventing of Misuse) Act, 1996 has been passed and further strengthened in 2003 yet selective abortions frequently being done however in some clandestine ways. These facts revealed by media are strong evidence to such preference of parents.

Probable Reasons : (i) Religions or cultural beliefs-There are certain beliefs that it is son only entitled to perform funeral and obeisance (shraddha) of his parents. In the absence of son, this right goes to the next male heirs but never to their daughters.

(ii) Ignorance-Parents assume that daughters have to leave their home after marriage and even their caste is changed on the day when marriage is solemnised. However, sons live always with them and share common food, house, customs and rituals. So, they hope sons will look after them in their old age.

(iii) Fear of social enigma and other problems-Some parents fear of social enigma if they are defiled, entrapped in illicit physical relations at their prime and moreover, burden of maintenance if they are any way deserted, divorced by their husbands or widowed due to ill-luck.

These and several others including certain legal frameworks, ethics and canons stimulate the mentality of giving preference to sons over daughters in Indian society.

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