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Why do Indians prefer sons?

October 19, 2006

Men here are considered ‘superior’, ‘calmer’, ‘more sensible’, ‘dependable’, ‘bread-earners’ and even ‘better drivers!’ Naturally society prefers the male child as he is the ‘superior’ child. 😮

Economics plays a large part here. The son is expected to earn and ‘pay back’ by looking after the parents in old age. Usually he does. And in many parts of India the male child grows up and commands a large dowry. A big economic bonanza for the parents, if they manage to sell their son to the highest bidder.

On the other hand, all the money spent on a girl’s education is considered a ‘waste’ as even if the girl earns it will go to the husband’s family. Worse, giving birth to a girl means that the parents will have to ‘buy’ a groom for her when the time comes.

Unless parents stop looking at their children from the economic perspective, the bias against women will never go.

Related Reading: India’s sex ratio is in the favour of men
Social instability caused by the shortage of women in India and China
Why Indian women ‘fast’ for their men
Poor portrayal of women in the media

9 Comments leave one →
  1. Shrirang Talwalkar permalink
    October 21, 2006 4:24 am

    I think this may be true in rural India but may not be true in the middle or upper middle classes in urban areas.

    Girls are getting educated, earning money and having careers. Economically there is little if any difference between the earning power of men and women.

    In terms of parental care, generally girls tend to be closer to their parents than boys unless it is a joint family. At least that is our experience from here in the US of Indians who have parents in India.

    • Vaish permalink
      February 18, 2021 9:17 pm

      Bless you as well as the girls you mention (no sarcasm). However, back home is an entirely different story. Most families, urban or rural, openly discriminate against their daughters and pray for a boy. Getting women educated is just a way of fending off outcry. The mindset is still the same for most. This is even worse in rural India of course but the city is not as better as you think. What is amazing is that many educated young women internalize this thought process so the numbers never come out. There are exceptions but not many.

  2. October 21, 2006 7:22 am

    About women earning equal salaries, well I guess thats true. However there are far more women at home in India than women in the work-force. As both of us come from a certain kind of family where most women in our family work (in fact our aunts too!) as professionals we are often unaware of the situation in other more conservative families. We are the elite Shrirang! Also, Maharastrian women are far more advanced than women from some other parts of India in terms of women’s freedom.

    In Mumbai, the dowry system is well and thriving even amongst the educated. These families are not ofcourse Maharashtrian families. You will be surprised to know that there is a ‘rate card’ for boys depending on their professions! Even educated, earning women are beaten up and harrassed because they do not bring in sufficient dowry. There was a well publicised case of an IAS officer recently where the woman, who was also and IAS officer, filed for divorce. She could, because she was earning. Most women just bear it. Or their dads buy off the groom. This is not to say that this practice is unknown amongst Maharshtrians. There are those who buy and sell their sons…

    About girls feeling emotionally close to their parents, thats also true. But they can only support their parents financially if they have the money. Mostly they don’t. Ever since the law on equal inheritance came about (which was not very long ago) fathers now make wills just to disinherit their daughters. If they don’t the money is equally divided amongst the children.

  3. Maneesha permalink
    November 10, 2006 8:13 am

    Nita, what you say is so true. I know so many educated people who give their daughters the best of education, opportunities etc. but about marriages they revert to insane ideas. they still feel that they have to spend “x” amount of money for the wedding , give their daughter a kilo of gold, or whatever. The education, job are seen in terms of how it will benefit the husbands family in economic terms, maybe like an ongoing dowry?

  4. sanket sunand dash permalink
    May 12, 2007 2:49 pm

    Female infanticide is more commojn in posh urban areas than in rural areas.

  5. May 12, 2007 4:55 pm

    True what you said Sanket. The reason is awareness of tests, facilities and more money. Modern technology has given a way to provide ‘solutions’!

  6. Abdullah K. permalink
    June 10, 2009 11:07 pm

    @ Shrirang Talwalkar – “I think this may be true in rural India but may not be true in the middle or upper middle classes in urban areas.”

    People don’t make a dramatic leap in cultural attitudes just because they are more ‘urban’ than their ‘rural’ neighbours. Despite the rapid ‘westernisation’ of metropolitan cities as their inhabitants will proudly tell you, the traditional conservatism is very much alive and kicking. This includes attitudes regarding marriage, female child and even skin colour (an obsession with ‘fairness’).
    In urban areas, female infanticide is replaced by female foeticide because of the access of better sex determination technology and money. That is about the only difference in the trend.

    • Satish Joglekar permalink
      January 28, 2014 12:26 pm

      It is partially true. However in North India women are still not treated as equals.
      In Maharshtra social change started happening very early – around 1850s.
      In urban areas the rate is high because of availability of technology – I do not know of a single educated Mahrashtrian family that can be faulted for foeticide.

  7. Bhavya permalink
    January 6, 2016 1:15 pm

    People spend money for marriage of daughter and give dowry mainly because they want a guy from their caste. They are not readily accepting love marriage or looking for a bride groom in caste no bar section. They consider caste as a status and not willing to compromise on it. Now the parents and society say that law on equal inheritance is not applicable as the parents spent money on girl’s marriage. But we girls were not the people who asked for a same caste man. Parents spending money for same caste man and at last refusing for inheritance.

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