Caste scars gender reality in K’shetra village
Upper caste families of Mangoli Jattan village — having the worst gender ratio in the district with 308 girls for every 1,000 boys in 2014 — feel “blessed” for God has been “very kind” in filling almost every mother’s lap with a boy. The same, however, is not true for those belonging to the lower castes.
Jaipal (70), a landlord with four sons and seven grandsons, insists: “We have never got any tests done to ascertain the gender of the unborn child in our family. God has been kind.”
“It is a fact that while a boy’s father sleeps in peace, a daughter’s father has sleepless nights. He has to worry for her security, a match for her, dowry. It’s endless responsibility,” he says.
Village sarpanch Satpal, belonging to the Backward Class, is not convinced by the argument.
“I have told the villagers that our village has made it to the number one position.
“I have told the villagers that our village has made it to the number one position. It is for the worst gender ratio. And, soon the government will ‘honour’ me in Delhi for all the boys they are bringing into this world,” he says with sarcasm. It’s clear that something is amiss given the birth of an “alarming number” of boys in a village where joint families have one or two girls against eight boys.
Satpal explains: “The Scheduled Castes and Backward Classes have the right mix of boy-girl ratio, which is askew in ‘swaran jaatis’ (upper castes). We can’t say what is going on because we have never heard of sex determination tests around our village. But money makes the mare go.” While Parmeshwari Devi (80), who belongs to the lower caste, spells out the one-son norm the “zamindars” (landlords) of the village have voluntarily adopted, Mamta Rani, another member of her community, says the disequilibrium hasn’t touched their settlement.
“We are the lower castes of the village. We have barely enough to feed our families. These tests are the prerogative of the upper castes. We don’t know where and how the tests are done, but it comes as a surprise that most firstborns to the upper castes are boys,” she Rani.
Sham Chand, the village plumber with two daughters, explains the social pressure involved in having daughters. “I didn’t want a second child but villagers built pressure on me to try for a boy. I ended up with another girl,” he says.
Among the landlord families, Santosh, a mother of four married sons, sums up the sentiment in favour of the boys: “A girl means loss of our land while a boy brings in prosperity. My daughters-in-law have given me grandsons and I can die easy.”
- There are cases where joint families have one or two girls against eight boys
- The village anganwadi has four girls against 12 boys
“The lower castes have the right mix of boy-girl ratio, which is askew in ‘swaran jaatis’ (upper castes). We can’t say what is going on. But money makes the mare go” Satpal, A BC sarpanch
Male child boom in upper caste families as girls’ ratio stands at 308