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India’s sex ratio – a sad state of affairs

September 5, 2006

sex ratio map

In India today the men to women ratio is rapidly declining. The road that lies ahead is a vast barren desert, and our country is poised to plunge into social disaster.india-sex-ratio-key.jpg
Usually when something is in short supply, it’s value rises and people scramble to either hoard it, steal it, swipe it, buy it at a premium, or at best, share it with loved ones.

As in some places in India, women are seen as ‘goods’, not people, they suffer the same fate. When in short supply, they are kidnapped, bought at a premium or shared with friends and relatives. Some men have no means to buy and if they have the criminal mentality, they will resort to crime. You can read about it here .

On the other hand see what happens when people are in short supply, as in lets say experienced computer engineers. Their value goes up and as a result, and they are wined and dined, lured and cajoled, sucked up to and put on a pedestal.

(Map sourced from

Related Reading: The ill effects on society caused by too few women
More articles on Crimes Against Women
Why Indians want male children
How women are portrayed in the Indian media
Child Marraige is now really illegal!

23 Comments leave one →
  1. Vivek Khadpekar permalink
    August 16, 2007 2:40 pm


    I notice there have been no comments on this post for the more than eleven months it has been up. Maybe you need to move some of the relevant posts from other threads to this one.

    I have a lot to say on this subject, but I am already taking too much time off from my work to indulge in this. When I do come back here with a post, I hope it will not be the first.


  2. August 16, 2007 4:58 pm

    Vivek, when I first started my blog, I did not have many readers. I have built up traffic by sheer hard work for the last 8-9 months. Its only of late that I have started to get comments. Today I can proudly say that I get about a 1000-1500 vistors everyday though on holidays it can dip to 800. Imagine out of these 1000 who read my blog I get only about 8-10 comments a day, if I am lucky. Its okay by me.
    lI am delighted that the blog and its issues are distracting you from your work! 🙂 You are welcome to add the comment you wrote on the S India N. India post here. You made a lot of good points.

  3. krenim permalink
    August 16, 2007 10:04 pm

    Well if its any consolation you are streets ahead of China on this.Their one child policy means parents either get a son to carry on the family name or a daughter who gets married and goes away to live with her husband.No prizes for guessing which sex is more popular.Apparently by 2020 100mn chinese males won’t have spouses. Can you imagine the problems this will cause 100mn!!!

    Luckily we in the west modernized before we had things like ultra sound machines etc

    The luckiest SOBs(excuse the expression) are the swedes imagine a nation with more blue eyed blonde angels than men.Its not fair I tell you!Just back from Malmo I frankly am seriously considering relocating in around 5 years or so.Long live the EU.

    BTW why don’t you start a post on the ridiculously high divorce rates, we in the UK are world champions 70% of marraiges break up! Its the pits !

  4. August 16, 2007 11:33 pm

    Yeah, I know what you mean… and on top of everything, one doesn’t really know whats happening in China! Its mystery country to me.
    And actually i have written a post on divorce rates here it was one of the posts that got a fair number of comments which are far more interesting than the post itself!

  5. Vivek Khadpekar permalink
    August 17, 2007 4:21 pm


    (Following your suggestion, I am just copy-pasting, with minor editing, the post from the S-N thread to this one, where I think it belongs):

    What arrested my attention is the map, and the fact that it is based on statewise aggregate data. This conceals too many variations for a social scientist to take seriously. Disaggregate the data by district and the picture will change radically. Even if you just remove Mumbai from the map, the colour for the rest of Maharashtra would match that of the southern states other than Kerala. And if you were to map just the Konkan districts (except Mumbai), plus Satara, they would show up the same colour as Kerala. It is all a matter of what degree of aggregation or disaggregation you elect to use from the available data.

    Although I cannot quote statistics off the top of my head, I have studied the figures returned by censuses from 1961 onwards. This is the most authentic and comprehensive Government of India source, is corrected for statistical errors, and is comparable across decades despite definitional differences from one census to the next. It is the source that organisations such as not only UNICEF but also other organisations, both within India and outside, most often use. Whatever other figures you get, claimed for non-census years, are extrapolations of the trends from previous censuses.

    As I said in my earlier post today, the most common reason for sub-national female-adverse sex ratio in India, examined for the entire population of the state, is male migration from other states for work. This is due to what demographers call push factors (conditions in the population-exporting areas) and pull factors (perceived option in the population-receiving areas). You cannot draw any meaningful conclusions regarding female foeticide and infanticide from such aggregate figures. For that you have to look at the disaggregated sex ratio for the 0-5 age group. Even that will give you only a partial picture, but it will be closer to the truth. The census does not publish data for narrower ranges than that, nor for conceptions and abortions. That would be available only from sample surveys.

    There are excellent institutional resources in Mumbai for authentic information on this subject. Prime among these is IIPS. Then there are TISS and IGIDR. And EPW is also published from Mumbai; a visit to its archive should yield a gold mine of reliable information.

    Last, but not the least, I am not at all disturbed by the statement that my beloved Maharashtra is included in the condemnable states. What does disturb me is how statistics are interpreted by the media and received by a credulous audience.

  6. August 17, 2007 5:19 pm

    One thing I do agree with you and that is that district wise the picture might be very different. Why even some northern states might not come out that bad! And definitely Mumbai scores very badly but the population is from all parts of India.
    However one thing is true and that is that the sex ratio has worsened in recent years. While one of the reasons is modern technology (wihtout modern thinking like Krenim mentioned) the other I feel is because at one time families would have many children and in the final run they would get the boys they desired, at least most families. But this is not possible or practical today.

  7. Vivek Khadpekar permalink
    August 17, 2007 5:59 pm

    You are right in saying that the overall sex ratio has been worsening over the last few decades. The only thing I was questioning was your basis of arriving at that conclusion.

    I think it is important to discriminate between the use, misuse and abuse of statistics. The latter two are what the media commonly do, and we must not fall prey to that

  8. December 10, 2007 11:11 pm

    Female population ratio is higher in rural areas compared to urban areas though villagers highly believe superstitions and fundamentalism. In Andhra Pradesh, Srikakulam, Vizianagaram and Karimnagar districts have female population equal to or higher than male population. In Srikakulam and Vizianagaram districts, more than 85% of people live in rural areas. Female sex ratio is very less in Hyderabad district that is fully urbanised area. Urban higher middle class families give high preference to dowry. Dowry problem is the main one reason for aborting unborn female babies. Even in rural areas, there are people who kill female babies because of poverty. One person who belongs to Rangareddy district in Andhra Pradesh killed his three of five daughters. He might not be aware about family planning or he waited for boy child @ cost of 5 girls. He belongs to a dalit caste and people of his caste said that dowry tradition is not widely practiced in their caste and they don’t understand why did he kill his daughters. Superstitions and fundamentalism are even practiced by highly educated people including doctors and university professors. Doctors and professors justify themselves by arguing that natural sciences are different from social sciences. Other people ask the question “What is wrong in believing those beliefs while famous politicians and officers also believe them?”.

  9. Raj permalink
    December 29, 2007 7:59 pm

    Thanks for putting up the map.Though it does not give the complete picture,it does give an idea of the sorry state of affairs in our country.

    The reasons seem to be very complex.It is not a matter of economic condition;wealthy urban families are involved in this gender holocaust to a far greater extent than ‘backward’ tribal families.Though this practice is not traditionally a part of some communities,it is sad to see states like J&K and Sikkim in the danger zone.

    I felt that as India becomes increasingly ‘westernised’,we would drop the abhorrent practice of female foeticide,as girls are preferred in N.America and Europe,but clearly we are moving in the opposite direction,and at an alarming rate.

    Let us not compare ourselves with China.China is an authoritarian state that can achieve something by force if it so desires,but we can never do that.(Take population growth control measures,for instance, though they may be a prime reason for the poor sex ratio in that country.)

    I also read with interest your article on being a mother of two daughters.But I must say that yours is a ‘once in a blue moon’ case.Most mothers and mothers-in-law,even if they are highly educated and well-to-do,seem to prefer sons to daughters when compared to fathers.Though they are women themselves,they view a son as a boon and a daughter as a bane.Educated fathers,in general,seem to be more open to the idea of having a daughter than their wives!Though they are overruled by the women in the family,especially the mother-to-be,without whose consent or atleast knowledge,female foeticide cannot take place.Why does the modern Indian woman think that she is an unworthy wife if she does not bear a son?In the age of ‘modern’ nuclear urban families,this attitude simply puzzles me!

    I am not saying that men are not responsible for this sorry state of affairs.They are more responsible for this than women,when it comes to the overall picture.But seen in the context of ‘educated’,’westernised’,’modern’,’liberal’ nuclear urban families,more women seem to be uncomfortable with the idea of having a daughter than men!

  10. December 29, 2007 11:05 pm

    Raj, thanks.
    that’s an interesting point you make, that more educated men prefer girls rather than educated women. I have not thought of it this way, although I do know that many women want a son. It’s a very complex issue, but maybe it’s a kind of self hatred!

  11. Raj permalink
    December 30, 2007 3:58 am

    Yes,I do agree that it could be a kind of self hatred,among other reasons.Though I may never get to know a woman’s way of thinking,here is what I think goes on in the mind of many ‘modern’ women who are desperate to have a son:

    1)That she and her husband should not go through the ‘difficulties’ her parents had gone through in bringing her up,educating her,getting her married and so on.Whether this is true or not,they are made to believe this by the way her family treated her vis-a-vis her brother(s).And everyone in the family may have indicated such a thing to her in several subtle or not-so-subtle ways,not to mention what they see in most of our movies and serials.

    2)They may think that being born as a woman is to be condemned to a second class life of suffering compared to being born as a man.This may be due to physical and emotional reasons.(This is not completely true.Men have entirely different problems that may not be understood by women).Not to mention the status of women in our society.Even many religions,shamefully,seem to indicate that women are inferior to men.

    3)Women are certainly more worried about what others think of them,compared to men,who are somewhat thick-skinned,in general.(For instance,I really cannot think of a reason why any woman would ever want to wear uneven high heels,despite the obvious discomfort and pain they cause,other than to ‘look good’ in the eyes of men.I strongly feel that uneven high heels should be banned,in the interest of women.If you feel the same way,Nita,you should write about this notorious health hazard.If you like to wear them yourself,please forgive me).She may feel that our patriarchal society may not think highly of her if she does not have a son.I have painfully observed that many women who have a male offspring regard themselves as superior to other women who don’t.They seem to feel ‘blessed’ to have a son.This is not the case with men,atleast most educated men.

    While many educated men may not really prefer a daughter to a son,they are somewhat more neutral about the gender of their child,when compared to their wives,who seem to be desperate to have atleast one son in the family.At the same time,it is heartening to know that there are exceptions to this rule.

  12. Vivek Khadpekar permalink
    December 30, 2007 7:08 am


    I don’t know if it is just “educated” men. My own impression is that most men who are NOT under the thumbs of their mothers or prisoners of “what society thinks”, would prefer a daughter. A daughter’s affection for her parents (especially the father) is more enduring than a son’s. And even though, in most societies, she ultimately “becomes another’s”, the paternal bond remains intact. I am sure there are explanations other than Freud’s for this.

    I do not claim to speak on behalf of everyone. These are just the feelings of a man who (and his wife) were sadly disappointed, 23 years ago, when the only child they had planned to have turned out to be a son. We love him, but we still sometimes wish it had been a daughter.

  13. Raj permalink
    January 5, 2008 3:14 pm

    Thanks for expressing your thoughts.I was not at all surprised by your wishes.

    What I am writing in this comment may shock you,but I think you may appreciate the logic in the argument,since you are not one of those silly “mama’s boys”.

    When we talk of our society as a patriarchal one,it is a misnomer.It is only patri-linear,but in truth it is matriarchal.

    In fact I think that our world,as it is now,is dominated by women,but it is made to appear as if men are dominant.This suits many women,as they do not want apparent domination,they want real domination,even if they appear as subservient.

    As you know,in any species,males are the weaklings.I do not mean physical strength,but real strength.Males are not expected by nature to sustain and increase the species,that task is entrusted to females.Males,infact, do not care about procreation or progeny,all they want is sex.If it were to be like that,males would weaken over a period of time and would eventually vanish.Not that they would care about that.They are not entrusted with procreation,that rests with females.In some species,like some lizards,females can reproduce even if there are no males (parthenogenesis).Every species would go this way over a period of time and then eventually vanish.

    But of course,(wo)man is sapient.She knows this truth and would not allow this to happen.She knows that her own interest lies in protecting the male,since males degenerate and self-destruct over a period of time.If there were no men in this world,there would be no women either.Cloning and other artificial methods are not genetically sustainable and would not sustain the species.Therefore,women must ensure that males do not vanish,no matter what price they pay for that since procreation is entrusted to women.Also it would suit them as very few men means conflict would break out among women for the remaining men.All our patri-linear societies are based on this simple genetic fact.

    Tribal societies are somewhat patriarchal.In such societies,there is more respect for women.No wonder they are headed for extinction.

    Infact,with the progress of time,all societies become more matriarchal even if it means a subservient status for women in them.

    Thus Abrahamic religions,which seem male dominated are nothing but the response of nature(aided by women) to ensure that males,the weaklings that they are genetically,are not wiped out.A shame if you ask me,since pagan societies had female deities,which is not so in the Abrahamic religions.

    Capitalism is another response of nature(aided by women) to ensure that men do not disappear.Men have little,if any,desire for capitalism.Consumerism is women focussed.Thus women were not happy with socialism which had to collapse to protect the genetically weak males who would otherwise have disappeared over a period of time under socialism.When capitalism made a triumphant entry into the Eastern Bloc,women would have welcomed it.But Russian and other East European men could not adjust and began to drink themselves to death.

    Therefore I feel women have a vested interest in protecting the genetically weak males and would go to any length to do this even if it means they would be made to lead second class lives under males.This is afterall,what they are supposed to do.Ensure that males are not wiped out so that humans would not disappear.So women genetically have a strong son preference,especially if they have small families.

    I do not dislike women for preferring sons at all.This comment is my own thought from a genetic point of view.

  14. Vivek Khadpekar permalink
    January 5, 2008 3:41 pm


    Thanks. No I am not shocked by your comments. I am familiar with some ot them, and although I occasionally find the logic convoluted (dare I say sophistic?) They are seductive at an emotional level.

    At this moment I do not have time for a detailed response, but your conclusion about tribal societies seems to me a non sequitur. You cannot look at tribal societies in today’s world in isolation of their environmental and politico-economic circumstances.

    Your last three paragraphs open up a new line of thought for me. Let me understand it, and maybe I’ll respond.


  15. wishtobeanon... permalink
    January 5, 2008 7:26 pm

    Talking about preference for males, all women do not fall in that category, myself included.

  16. January 19, 2009 11:00 pm

    Well, I beg to differ from the common thinking that it is a bad state (sex-ratio).
    Just like population explosion, it is a hoax.
    Here is a different view of the situation.

    Why sex selection should be legalised

    Furthermore, as technology is advancing, there are coming to be ways when parents will be able to choose what sort of kid with what sort of talents and inclinations they want.

  17. Vivek Khadpekar permalink
    January 20, 2009 8:47 am

    @ Nita:

    The link provided by Gargi Dixit above on her sex selection post is not working.

    Vivek, there was a slight error (must be wordpress!), which I have fixed. You can access the page now. – Nita.

  18. satish kumar permalink
    February 26, 2010 6:37 am

    hi.,i am very thank full to u for your valuble blog.i am a btech student.for my college day celebrations ,i am making a documentry on women.can u pls help me,i want some pics.i hope u can post those pics for me..

  19. satish kumar permalink
    February 26, 2010 6:41 am

    hi.i am making a documentry on women,that how they are suffering from all evil effects of this society…can u pls send me those supporting pics..

    dear satish, kindly write to me about the pictures you want and I will send you the originals. If you do like a particular picture, and then use it, I will need you to give credit to me in your documentary. – Nita

  20. April 6, 2010 10:20 am

    recently there are very very less women against men in india .
    because our indian society is like that. Parents do not like women child.
    specifically mother don’t like a women child , if they have then before delivery they abort it.
    actually this is a violation against law. but hospitals and parents were kept this matter as secret.
    so media also can’t proof it.

    To avoid these kind of violation , first we have to find the factor like ,
    why parents (esapecially mother , even she is a women) don’t like a baby girl.

    because the complexity in the society for women to get settled in life. Like education,dowry,etc,etc

    we can easily solve these kind of problems in a reverse manner .
    like ask dowry from a men to marry a women .
    i think this kind of reversibility will be good one for future generation .
    but it will take around 25 years to solve the problem.


    • April 6, 2010 2:31 pm

      “like ask dowry from a men to marry a women .”

      🙂 Exactly how Prophet Muhammed said it and how it works in Arab nations..I think we should learn and follow this particular aspect of that society.Muslims pay ‘mehar’ to women to marry them.Girls receive and not give..

      But Indian muslims religiously follow the non-isamic practise of dowry given to men,that too in tons of gold and money..Hypocrites..

  21. Shanta permalink
    May 24, 2011 12:35 am

    I do not like the way they are treating these women to begin with, but in addition to that I can not believe that women are actually on the decline in a bad way. I wonder what can happen currently to help these very deeply concerning situation.


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