As marked by Sonia Bhalotra, a Professor of Economics at the University of Essex, when world gold prices go up, only a few baby girls survive in India during the first month of life. According to Sonia and her research associates, gold is commonly a part of bridal dowries in India. So, when gold prices go up, even-handedly the cost of raising girls goes up; and families have a tendency to disregard or abort the baby girls.In the past, the news made rounds affirming that India is the most unsafe place in the world to be a baby girl. In line with the recent data on mortality rates of female babies, an Indian girl child aged 1-5 years is 75% more in the cards to die than an Indian boy. This makes the worst gender difference in child mortality for any country in the world. Nevertheless, the official data has found that India has a better infant mortality sex ratio than China, with 97 male infant deaths for every 100 female — yet not in tune with the universal inclination.
As far as the UN report is concerned, it very evidently states that the high girl child mortality is overseen by socio-cultural values. According to the report, the biological advantage for girls is so strong in early childhood that upper mortality among girls should be seen as a dominant warning that treatment disparity or access to resources is putting girls at a hindrance.
Considering the tagline — ‘socio-cultural values’ — in the UN report and linking it to the practice of dowry system in India, it could be appropriately said that there is a strong affiliation between the baby girl survival rates and the increase in gold rates.It is a matter of authenticity that dowries enforce a substantial toll on girls’ families. According to an estimate, it is six times the average annual household income in India. Despite the fact that the dowry is lawfully barred in India, due to the unrelenting cultural outfit, dowry is rampant in Indian societies in some or other form — this forces the families with a girl child to save money towards her dowry, even from the day of a child’s birth. The dowry in India not only shoulders the tradition of money transfer rather in the form of handing over of lands/buildings, and, obviously, gold also. Gold, archetypally in the form of jewelry, is a central part of a dowry in India. It is strongly acclaimed here that India imports more than ninety percent of its gold. Thus, vacillations in the international gold price render into fluxes in the cost of a dowry.
The study conducted by Sonia Bhalotra reveals the fact that those women who were born in months when the gold price was snowballing were shorter in adulthood. It was also found that those girls that survived carried a marker of relative neglect into adulthood, compared to boys born in months of gold price inflation.
According to the captioned study, by some or other means, parents seem to be responding to gold price increases by trying to decrease the chance of having a surviving girl child. Given the importance of gold in India, gold prices regularly feature in the media but people also talk frequently about gold prices and dowry costs. According to the study, it could be that gold price escalations are a substitution for a drop in actual income for the reason that buying gold results in having less money to spend on other things — this may have an influence on girl survival rates. This was established in this study.After going through the analysis, there is a possibility that one may envisage that parents react to rises in gold prices by dropping the amount of gold given in dowry while upholding its value. Nevertheless, in a rural survey having info on dowry, it was found that its value tends to rise more or less proportionately with gold prices. Indeed, this fact suggests that social norms may make it difficult to regulate measures downhill.
The foregoing discussion seriously poses a question — where our societies are leading to. Guidelines to reinforce the monitoring bar on dowry in India are dubious to work for the reason that social standards lead families to support tradition and to co-operate in violating the ban.
In my viewpoint, Social Security Money given to daughters at par with the male counterpart is not the same from the forced dowry system. The deep-rooted dowry system could come to an end only with the gender equality; and also when the 2005 Supreme Court’s verdict that sanctions the daughters to become co-sharers with her male siblings, is practiced both in letter and spirit. Thus, the link flanked by Gold prices as regards baby girl survival rates could be shattered into pieces!
– Dr. Suman Kumar Kasturi