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   Unnatural Selection
Reviewed by Sudhirendar Sharma
30 Nov 2011

It’s a man’s world!

If the sex selective abortions were to continue, it will indeed be a man’s world in the next two decades. With 121 boys for 100 girls in China and corresponding 112 in India, the number of missing females from the region’s population would soon be a staggering 200 million. It will be an evolutionary chaos where millions of men would be unable to find local wives.

In many parts of the country bride search has indeed become frenetic, providing short-term relief from social ills like dowry. But ‘missing girls’ syndrome is more than temporary, stretching across areas like evolution, gender relations and geopolitics. ‘The implications of ‘surplus males’ have yet to fully fathomed,’ argues writer Maria Hvistendahl.

Unnatural Selection is a work of investigative writing; revealing and engaging. The population hysteria through the 1960s and 70’s had led agencies like the World Bank, the Rockefeller and the Ford Foundation to funnel grants into population control efforts – no less than a conspiracy that sex determination was promoted as an effective method of population control in the process.

It is however another matter that since then sex determination has popped up as a multibillion-dollar industry. In market-driven globalization gender selection has become a commodity for purchase - if you don’t like it, don’t buy it. Through emerging techniques like pre-implantation genetic diagnosis or PGD, parents can literally design ‘babies’ with choicest features.

Maria Hvistendahl raises questions on this disturbing trend of prioritizing the needs of one generation over other. A woman should have the right to terminate a pregnancy, she contends, but should not have the right to shape the individual represented by that pregnancy to her own whims. Surplus males can trigger a period of violence and instability.

Unnatural Selection is a must read book, a classical work on non-fiction story telling format on a subject that is not only compelling but should be morally binding as well.

Unnatural Selection
by Maria Hvistendahl
Public Affairs, USA
314 pages, US$ 27

 Other books reviewed by Dr Sudhirendar Sharma
Features > Book Shelf
Spoiling Tibet
Posting Date: 28 Feb 2014

A Journey in the Future of Water
Posting Date: 28 Feb 2014

Yamuna Manifesto
Posting Date: 28 Feb 2014

Corruption Watch

The bad news is that corruption has not only sustained but has grown in size and stature in the country. With scams being a regular feature, seventy per cent respondents in a survey have rightfully opined that corruption has continued to increase in India. One in every two interviewed admit having paid a bribe for availing public services during last one year. Transparency International's latest survey reveals that the political parties top the chart for the most corrupt public institutions, followed by police force and legislatures. No wonder, India continues to make new records on the global corruption arena!

The shocking revelation is that the health and education sectors haven't remained untouched by this phenomenon. With 5th and 6th positions respectively for these sectors on the public perception chart on corruption, corruption has crept insidiously into these sectors of hope for the masses. With bureaucracy being fourth in the list of corrupt institutions in the country, corruption seems to have been non-formally institutionalized with little hope if public services would ever be effective in the country. With economic growth having literally institutionalized corruption, are we now expecting corrupt to be socially responsible - a different CSR.

Poor. Who?

Not giving 'aid' to India is one thing but calling it 'rich' is quite another. If one in three of the world's malnourished children live in India, what does average daily income of $3 indicate? It perhaps means that there is a relative decline in poverty - people are 'less poor' than what they used to be in the past. But having crossed the World Bank arbitrary threshold of $2 a day does not absolve the 'developed' countries of their obligation to part with 0.7 per cent of their Gross National Income in development aid. Should this three-decade old figure not be revised?  

An interesting debate in UK's House of Commons delved on future of development assistance by the British Government. While prioritizing limited resources has been a concern, there has been no denying the fact that development aid must be guided towards tangible gains over a short period of time to start with. There are difficult choices for elected governments to make - should they invest in long-term primary education or in short-term university scholarships? Which of these will bring gains and trigger long-term transformation in the society. As politicians continue to be divided on the matter, poverty persists!!   

Lead View
People, Partition and the Pain
By Rina Mukherji
15 Aug 2013

Dr Jayanti Basu's book analyzes the complex feelings of hatred and longing for the homeland that have contributed to shaping the personalities of a generation of people who were forced to ..
Book Shelf

Yamuna Manifesto

A Journey in the Future of Water

Spoiling Tibet

On Western Terrorism
Devinder Sharma
Carmen Miranda
Pandurang Hegde
Sudhirendar Sharma
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