Economic Survey of India 2017-18: Ahead of the tabling of the Union Budget 2018, the Economic Survey 2017-18, which came out today predicts a promising economic growth trajectory in the years to come. However, on the social front, the survey brings out a disturbing picture to the fore. As per the Economic Survey 2017-18, Indian parents continue to have children until they get desired number of sons. The survey states, “The data highlighted another seemingly known fact that Indian society exhibits a strong desire for a male child. It pointed out that most parents continued to have children until they get number of sons.”
The findings come at a time when Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in his ‘Mann ki Baat’ programme on Sunday, spoke at length about women empowerment and how they are moving ahead in all fields. Modi mentioned the achievements of Flying Officers Bhavna Kanth, Mohana Singh, and Avani Chaturvedi, who became the first women to be commissioned as fighter pilots. However, the Economic Survey data outlines the fact that Indian society (or at least a substantial section of it) still prefers a son over a daughter. Son preference refers to the attitude that sons are more important and more valuable than daughters.
The last year report by the United Nations Population Fund also points out that Indian society prefers a son as they believe that a son can support the economic needs of the family. The feeling continues to persist even at a time when women have excelled in almost every field. Further, the preference given to a male child is also because, in the Indian culture, primarily males light the funeral pyre. Yet another factor that contributes to the feeling of preferring a son over a daughter is dowry. In case of a daughter, the parents have to shell out dowry and the vice-versa. Although, it must be noted that receiving, giving, or even demanding dowry is a punishable offence.
In the Population Census of 2011, it was revealed that the population ratio of India in 2011 was 943 females per 1000 of males. The Sex Ratio 2011 shows an upward trend from the census 2001 data but India is still behind many developed nations in this regard. The Economic Survey also gave a comparison of sex ratio by birth between India and Indonesia. Notably, according to Indonesia 2010 census, for every 100 females in the country, there are 101 males.