How long will it take our venerable netas to wake up, really wake up to the problem of female foeticide? What will it take to shake them out of their stupor? How do we get them to actually do something about it, as opposed to merely paying lip-service once in a long while?
Or are we already too far gone for anything to be done about it?
This link on IHM’s recent post drove me to despair. I mean, here’s a village which is actually facing the consequences of the highly skewed gender ratio–its young men admit to fearing that they may never get married–and yet the village elders deny that this sorry state of affairs could be due to rampant, unchecked sex-selective abortions. The more acute shortage of girls in that part of the country could be attributed to better diet which makes their women bear only sons, they claim with a straight face.
Such mindsets are too deeply ingrained to respond to the lame media campaign we have witnessed so far–that much is evident for all to see. .All that the media focuses on anyway is how sex-selective abortions are illegal and how offenders could land in jail. What good can such messages be when everyone knows that offenders are almost never caught! (Consider this–all of 28 people have been convicted in the past five years under the Pre-natal Diagnostics Techniques (PNDT) Act in the state of Haryana, which has the dubious distinction of having the worst sex-ratio in the country as per the latest census report.)
These mindsets will remain in place until girls come to be seen to be as good or bad a ‘budhape ka sahara’ as boys, until dowry is done away with–in short, until arranged marriages become a thing of the past. While some of these changes are already underway, it is reasonable to assume that one whole generation or two will have lapsed before they come to be the norm rather than the exception.
Till such a time comes, the government needs to do more than sit around waiting for these obnoxious medieval attitudes to rectify themselves at their own sweet pace. The PNDT laws need to be given more teeth and implemented rigorously, and the government needs to figure out how.
I find it unbelievable that a state, and one which is not doing too bad economically at that, with such an abundance of resources and manpower at its disposal, cannot stop its people from killing their unborn daughters in millions. Why is the Indian state so supremely indifferent to such pressing social issues requiring urgent attention? Are our politicians afraid of losing favour with those people– remember there are millions of them, so they make a large group– who indulge in this crime?
Why don’t we make sex-selective abortions a crime on a par with pre-meditated murder ? Surely drastic situations demand drastic measures? Today, a sex-selective abortion is apparently available at a price ranging from Rs. 1000 to Rs. 20,000. Maybe the threat of more severe punishment in the event of being caught might drive up the prices so much as to make it out of reach of most people ? I am thinking in terms of cutting losses. The affluent in any case will continue to go to Bangkok to get it done.
Which brings me back to our netas. How many of of our political bigwigs have you ever heard expressing even a passing concern at the genocide against human foetuses carrying a Y chromosome? Renuka Chowdhary and Prafull Patel are the only ones which come to my mind. What prevents Manmohan Singh( a father of three daughters himself), Sonia Gandhi, P Chidambaram, Mayawati , Priyanka Gandhi, LK Advani, Sushma Swaraj or indeed Narendra Modi from coming forward and publicly condemning the malaise and/or expressing pride in being parents of daughters?
They probably cannot be bothered with wasting their breath over anything that does not involve one or the other votebank. This apathy on the part of our leaders, real or perceived, plays no mean part in shaping the attitudes of our law-enforcing agencies.
I do think it might give the cause a shot in the arm to have the Prime Minister and high profile politicos come on television and speak about it. And it wouldn’t hurt to rope in celebrities like SRK , Aamir khan or Sachin Tendulkar either.
Adverts on the issue on television, few as they are , are either singularly unremarkable or downright cringe-worthy.Take a look at this ad, for instance, which was recently doing the rounds on facebook. I am sure our ad-gurus can come up with better stuff than this. A well-worked out, sustained, multi-pronged media onslaught might yet make a difference. The reason why such a campaign hasn’t yet happened might have to do with paucity of funds–yeah right, these netas again.Private media companies can hardly be expected to spend a bomb on a large-scale public interest venture. The government has to do it.
Does it have the will?