India’s Sex Ratio Imbalance a Threat to Stability

India’s Sex Ratio Imbalance a Threat to Stability

Many Western observers hope that India's growth as a global power will both balance China's rise and ensure that rise remains peaceful. Indeed, the U.S. has identified India as a crucial partner for the coming century, and as part of its effort to cultivate a strategic partnership with New Delhi, Washington has even pledged to help India develop its nuclear energy capabilities. But the continued disappearance of India's women and girls described in preliminary census figures released last week is putting the future of India's security partnership with the West at risk.

According to the census figures, the sex ratio of children ages 0-6 is now 914 girls per 1,000 boys, or 109.4 boys for every 100 girls. This sex ratio is the worst in the recorded history of the modern Indian state. In 1991, the 0-6 sex ratio was 934 girls to 1,000 boys, and when it further fell to 927 in the 2001 census, New Delhi launched a round of policy initiatives designed to turn the situation around.

Cradle baby schemes, where girl babies can be left anonymously at government buildings, were instituted in some states. In the north and northwest, where the worst sex ratios were found, state governments paid cash to families that chose to keep their girls and offered additional money if the girls were immunized, sent to school and not married off before age 18. In 2006, the first arrest was made of a doctor charged under anti-sex-selective abortion laws. Government officials have condemned the culling of daughters from the population, as have religious leaders. Some Sikh and Hindu priests have even administered oaths to their followers not to engage in this practice.

Keep reading for free!

Get instant access to the rest of this article by submitting your email address below. You'll also get access to three articles of your choice each month and our free newsletter:

Or, Subscribe now to get full access.

Already a subscriber? Log in here .

What you’ll get with an All-Access subscription to World Politics Review:

A WPR subscription is like no other resource — it’s like having a personal curator and expert analyst of global affairs news. Subscribe now, and you’ll get:

  • Immediate and instant access to the full searchable library of tens of thousands of articles.
  • Daily articles with original analysis, written by leading topic experts, delivered to you every weekday.
  • Regular in-depth articles with deep dives into important issues and countries.
  • The Daily Review email, with our take on the day’s most important news, the latest WPR analysis, what’s on our radar, and more.
  • The Weekly Review email, with quick summaries of the week’s most important coverage, and what’s to come.
  • Completely ad-free reading.

And all of this is available to you when you subscribe today.