This story has been making the rounds of the blogosphere, although it is not breaking news in India. In the last two decades or so, the ancient practice of female infanticide in rural India has more or less been supplanted by selective abortion of female fetuses. Technology - ultrasound and other sex selection tests have made it possible for parents to "choose" the gender of the child they wish to give birth to. Other Asian countries like China, South Korea, Pakistan and Nepal show a similar bias says the United Nations Population Fund. In most of the world, female to male ratio in the general population is greater than one (believed to be mother nature's way). In many parts of Asia however, the ratio is less than one because of the bias against female babies - the imbalance being most noticeable in India and China. In India the ratio is decreasing with passing years.
Indian females born as a percentage of males born.
Here are some further facts and a glimpse into a cultural mindset that makes possible these "unnatural" numbers. And it is not just the rural poor who are responsible.
".... if the first-born was a girl, the number of girls born subsequently fell off precipitously. Among second children, only 759 girls were born for every 1,000 boys, and among third children, there were 719 girls for every 1,000 boys.
Although anti-girl bias is usually associated with the rural poor, the study shows it is far more widespread among more well-to-do urban dwellers.
Households where the mother had a better education -- and presumably an income that would allow her family to afford testing -- were significantly less likely to give birth to a second daughter if their first child was a girl.
The study did not find differences among religious groups.
India's patriarchal society emphasizes the need for male heirs, and a son is considered an extra pair of hands to earn income for the family. Girls are viewed as economic and social burdens because they will eventually marry and leave home, taking a large dowry with them. An Indian maxim states: "Grooming a girl is like watering a neighbour's garden."
There are further thoughts and analysis of this matter by Progressive Indian-American Woman who argues that it is not abortion rights but gender bias which is the central issue here.