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by Vikram Khanna | 2015-12-26 17:51:01

Just attended a funeral at Gurdwara. Discussion in car ride home turned to female infanticide and gender ratios of newborns by state. I was SHOCKED to find that Punjab has one of the worst ratios, given it is a rich state. Even more SHOCKED and disturbed that the ratios favor boys over girls in Northern Indian States. Hoped ratios would be better within the Sikh community given that everything I have heard is that the Guru Granth Sahib Ji teaches that men and women are equal. Unfortunately, the gender ratio problem is worse in Sikh communities than even Hindu communities. Christians and Muslims in India do much better in letting their girls be born and be raised. I am writing to question, not to criticize, not to judge. But having grown up in and around the Sikh culture, I just want to know what can and should be done. The data I am referring to is from the Indian 2011 census and was reproduced in a Times of India article. If you would like to look at these numbers yourself, please google Times of India sex ratios. There is a breakdown of the numbers by state and religion. Thank you in advance to consider my question.

Answer:
We do not think this is just a problem within Sikh community, but in Northern India all together. Sikhs only constitute 2% of the India's population. Female Infanticide is a very serious issue in Northern India, we highly condemn it, and unfortunately some Sikhs are a part of this problem as well.

The population of Sikhs is very small to be compared with other religions. It only takes few Sikhs to skew the ratio for the whole Sikh religion. 'The total population of Sikh community was 8.7 lakh, including 4.5 lakh men and 4.1 lakh females. The main concentration is in cities like Ganganagar and Hanumangarh as half of them lives in the former city. It has population of 4.7 lakh, including 2.4 lakh men and 2.25 lakh women.' (from Times of India). 4.5 lakh vs 4.1 ratio is a much greater ratio skew than 4.5 crore vs 4.1 crore. For example, from a sample of 1000, if each have two children, you would expect 1000 boys and 1000 girls, however, if only 25 decide to just favor boys, you would have 1050 boys and 950 girls. Ratio of 904 girls per 1000 boys.

Female Infanticide is in fact a serious issue and horrible practice. Some Sikhs are a part of this problem as well even though Sikh Gurus preached to value every single life, consider men and women equal and gave women equal status. This is because many Sikhs do not actually follow the teachings of Sikh Gurus. They are born into Sikhism, but many do not practice it. Some ignore the teachings.

We 100% agree that we must condemn this practice, bring more light to it, and educate people that without girls the ratio is very skewed and unhealthy. We will be starting a campaign to bring more light to this issue and educate people that girls and women are very important part of our human society. Guru Ji says, 'Man is born from a woman; within woman, man is conceived; to a woman he is engaged and married. Man is friends with woman; through woman, the future generations exist. When his woman passes away, he seeks another woman; to a woman a man is bound. So why call her bad? From her, kings are born. From a woman, woman is born; without woman there would be no one at all' (Guru Granth Sahib Ji, 473).

What is the role and status of women in Sikh society?
What is the contribution of Sikhism in the upliftment of women?


Vikram Khanna wrote -----

Thank you for your careful, researched, and well though out reply. I agree, the practice must be condemned because the next girl can also be someone's only mother!! Unfortunately, the blessings of Guru Ji are not absorbed by all. That just makes our work harder. Lets keep our discussion going and please keep me abreast of how your work of education against this abhorrent practice takes shape. With the little I know about statistics, I agree that ratios get skewed if the sample size is smaller. And I agree even more strongly that the sinful cultural forces which flourish in the general society affect every sub-segment of society. But Guru Ji was clear, very very clear about his admonishment against the "lower" role of girls and women. In fact, why was so much blood shed in the first place some 500 years ago? It wasn't just to protect the women, but also to up lift them.

I just have one request of you and that is this: referring to the statistical skewing from smaller sample sizes may open the door of justification and denial to those who want to make a bull headed and reflexive defense of Sikhs and Sikh culture. You are right, this is not about Sikhism as it is about the ridiculous practices of dowry, caste, and keeping girls less educated. But the blood of the Gurus and their disciples was not shed so that those with a vested interest in maintaining the status quo and advantages of the current power structures (in government, business and YES, the FAMILY HOME) 500 years later can make excuses!!

I really look forward to your reply. By the way: though i was born Hindu, I really grew up and was influenced by the Sikh community. My parents would have never met if it was not for my father's best friend's (a Sikh) mother. My grandfather's best friend was a Sikh doctor; the two doctors would begin every day together at 7 am with a walk. My cousin sister is married happily into that family. In fact, my uncle gave shelter to this family in his home in the midst's of the Hindu/ Sikh riots. My paternal grandfather's home is in Jalandhar. I come from Jalandhar and Kanpur. When my maternal great grandfather had to escape from Lahore, he re-settled the family eventually in Kanpur; half our our neighbors are Sikh. Our medical clinic is in a Sikh area. Lastly, I felt very comfortable in a Gurdwara; like I was home. But I also feel comfortable (not equally) in a Church, Mandir, or Synagogue.

I think we should stop "talking" about these issues and get on to the work of doing something about them. Maybe sponsoring a school for village girls in Punjab is one idea. Again, Guru Ji was very clear about this. There should be absolutely no excuse for even one female fetacide or female infanticide in any community; not even one!!!!!!!!! Demands for dowry and status should be a sin as well. I have two daughters. I would laugh in the face of anyone in the future even hinting about a dowry; they are lucky their son would even be considered for marriage! My daughters are no more or less precious than any of the daughters of Punjab. ALL daughters are just as precious as any son. thank you, Dr. Vikram Khanna

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