Female Feticide in India

The practice of female feticide in India , which causes the death of the fetus in the womb because of gender , has resulted in a sex ratio highest in India , according to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare of India (in English: Ministry of Health and Family Welfare). 1 The Pre-Conception and Prenatal Diagnostic Techniques Act (1994) criminalizes the prenatal monitoring of sex and female feticide, making it illegal in India to determine Or to disclose the sex of the fetus to anyone. There is concern, however, that the PCPNDT Act has been misapplied by the authorities. 2

The natural birth rate was estimated in a 2002 study of 106 boys per 100 girls. 3 A human birth rate significantly different from 106 is often assumed to correlate with the prevalence and magnitude of selective abortion by sex . The index of masculinity at birth impacts on the overall masculinity index of a society over time, as well as on the masculinity index of children in the short term. The index of childhood masculinity in India (defined as the ratio of boys to girls in an age group of 0-6 years, multiplied by one hundred) was 108 according to the 2001 census, and 109 according to the 2011 census. 4 The national average masks the variations in the regional figures obtained by the 2011 census – Indices: 120 in Haryana, 118 in Punjab, 116 in Jammu & Kashmir and 111 in Gujarat. 5

An index of high-born masculinity, and implicit female feticide, is not a problem exclusive to India. Higher levels of masculinity have been reported in the last 20 years in China , Pakistan , Vietnam , Azerbaijan , Armenia , Georgia and some countries in Southeast Europe. 6 There is a debate going on whether these high rates of masculinity are only caused by female feticide or some of the higher rates are explained by natural causes. 7

Index of infantile masculinity and feticide by states of India

The index of infantile masculinity in India shows a regional pattern. The 2011 Indian census shows that all eastern and southern Indian states have a child masculinity index of 103 to 107, 5 traditionally regarded as the “natural masculinity index.” The highest rates of masculinity were observed in the northern and northwestern states of India – Haryana (120), Punjab (118) and Jammu and Kashmir (116). 9 In the western states of Maharashtra and Rajasthan the census of 2011 relieved an infant masculinity index of 113, 112 in Gujarat and 111 in Uttar Pradesh. Referring to Fig.

Hindu census data suggest that there is a positive correlation between an abnormal masculinity index and a better socioeconomic status and greater literacy. In urban India, the child masculinity index is higher than the rural one, according to 1997, 2001 and 2011 census data, which would imply a higher prevalence of female feticide in Indian urban areas. 5 10

The following table presents the infant masculinity index data for the states and territories of the Union (TU) of India, according to the 2011 census for the population of the age group of 0 to 1 year. 11 The data indicate that 18 states / TU have a birth rate of more than 107, which implies an excess of male births and / or an excessive mortality of women after birth, but before men reach an age of 1 year.

State / TU Children (age 0-1)
Census 2011 11
Girls (age 0-1)
Census 2011 11
Index of masculinity
(Children per
100 girls)
National 10,633,298 9.677.936 109.9
Jammu and Kashmir 154,761 120,551 128.4
Haryana 254,326 212,408 119.7
Punjab 226,929 193,021 117.6
Uttarakhand 92,117 80,649 114.2
Delhi 135,801 118,896 114.2
Maharashtra 946,095 829,465 114.1
Lakshadweep 593 522 114.0
Rajasthan 722,108 635,198 113.7
Gujarat 510,124 450,743 113.2
Uttar Pradesh 1,844,947 1,655,612 111.4
Chandigarh 8,283 7,449 111.2
Damán and Diu 1.675 1,508 111.1
Bihar 1,057,050 957,907 110.3
Himachal Pradesh 53,261 48,574 109.6
Madhya Pradesh 733,148 677,139 108.3
Goa 9,868 9,171 107.6
Jharkhand 323,923 301,266 107.5
Manipur 22,852 21,326 107.2
Andhra Pradesh 626,538 588,309 106.5
Tamil Nadu 518,251 486,720 106.5
Odisha 345,960 324,949 106.5
Dadra and Nagar Haveli 3,181 3,013 105.6
West Bengal 658,033 624,760 105.0
Karnataka 478,346 455,299 105.1
Assam 280,888 267,962 104.8
Nagaland 17,103 16,361 104.5
Sikkim 3,905 3,744 104.3
Chhattisgarh 253,745 244,497 103.8
Tripura 28,650 27,625 103.7
Meghalaya 41,353 39,940 103.5
Arunachal Pradesh 11,799 11,430 103.2
Andaman And Nicobar Islands 2,727 2,651 102.9
Kerala 243,852 238,489 102.2
Puducherry 9,089 8,900 102.1
Mizoram 12,017 11,882 101.1

Data analysis

High masculinity indices considered abnormal

A school of academic thought suggests that any birth rate that is outside the normal range of 105-107 males per 100 females necessarily means selective abortion by sex. This school 12 states that both the masculinity index at birth and the masculinity index of the general population are remarkably constant in human populations. Significant deviations from the normal range of the masculinity indices at birth can only be explained by manipulation, that is, selective abortion by sex. 13 In a widely quoted article, 14 Amartya Sen compared the masculinity index at birth in Europe (106) and the United States (105) with those in Asia (107+) and argued that high rates of masculinity in East Asia, West Asia And southern Asia may be due to excessive female mortality. Sen noted that research had shown that if men and women receive similar medical and nutritional care and good health care, women have better survival rates, and the male gender is genetically fragile. 15 Sen calls “women lost” to women who would have survived in Asia if it had the same proportion of women to men as Europe and the United States. According to Sen, the high rate of masculinity at birth over decades implies a women’s deficit of 11% in Asia, or more than 100 million women lost over the combined 3 billion of India’s population, others Countries of South Asia, West Asia, North Africa and China.

High masculinity indices considered normal

Other scholars argue that birth rates above 103-107 may be due to natural causes. William James and others 7 16 suggest that the conventional assumptions have been:

  • There are the same number of X and Y chromosomes in mammalian sperm
  • X and Y have equal possibilities of achieving conception
  • Therefore equal numbers of male and female zygotes are formed, and that
  • Therefore, any variation of the masculinity index at birth is due to the selection of sex between conception and birth.

James warns that the available scientific evidence is against previous hypotheses and conclusions. He reports that there is an excess of males at birth in almost all human populations, and the natural sexual relationship at birth is usually between 102 and 108. However the proportion may deviate significantly from this range by natural causes, such as marriage Early age and fertility, adolescent mothers, mother’s age at birth, father’s age, age difference between father and mother, late births, ethnicity, economic and social stress, war, environmental and hormonal effects . 7 17 This academic school of thought supports its alternative hypothesis with historical data when modern gender-sensing technologies were not available, as well as in the masculinity indices at birth corresponding to diverse geographic subregions of the world and to several ethnic groups of developed economies . 18 19They suggest that direct data on abortion should be obtained and studied, rather than draw conclusions indirectly from the rates of human masculinity at birth.

James’ hypotheses are backed by historical data on masculinity rates at birth prior to the discovery and commercialization of sex-monitoring technologies by ultrasonography in the 1960s and 1970s, as well as by inverse abnormal masculinity indices currently observed in Africa. Michel Garenne reports that many African nations have witnessed birth rates below 100 for decades, that is, more girls than boys are born. 20 Angola , Botswana and Namibia have reported birth rates of between 94 and 99, which is quite different from the alleged natural birth rate of the male at birth of 104 to 106. 21 South Korea’s historical records suggest an index of Masculinity at birth of 1.13, based on 5 million births, in the 1920s and for 10 years. 22 Other historical records of Asia also support James’s hypotheses. For example, Jiang et al. Claim that the birth-to-be-born birth rate in China was 116-121 for a period of 100 years, at the end of the eighteenth century and the beginning of the nineteenth century; and that was a range of between 120-123 in the early twentieth century, falling to 112 in the 1930 23 24


Female feticide has been linked to the arrival in the early 1990s of ultrasound technology and widespread adoption in India at affordable prices. The obstetric ultrasound either transvaginal or transabdominal, controls various markers of fetal sex. It can be done from the 12 weeks of pregnancy. At that time, 3 / 4 of fetal sex can be properly determined, according to a 2001 study 25 Accuracy for men is approximately 50% and for women of almost 100%. When performed after the 13th week of pregnancy, ultrasound provides accurate results in almost 100% of cases. 25

Ultrasound technology came to China and India in 1979, but its expansion was slower in India. Technologies sex determination by ultrasound scans were introduced first in major cities of India in the 1980s, its use has expanded to urban areas of India in the 1990s, and became widespread in the late 2000s 26

Estimates of the magnitude of female feticide

Estimates of female feticide vary for each academic. One group estimates that more than 10 million female fetuses may have been illegally aborted in India since the 1990s, and that 500,000 girls have been lost annually due to female feticide. 27 MacPherson estimates that 100,000 abortions continue to occur annually in India only because the fetus is a girl. 28

Reasons for female feticide

Several theories have been proposed as possible reasons for selective abortion by sex. Cultural reason is favored by some researchers, 29 while others favor a gender bias in unequal access to resources. 28 Some demographers wonder whether affirmations of selective abortion by sex or infanticide are correct, because underreporting of women’s births may also account for high sex ratios. 30 31 Abnormal masculinity rates could also be explained by natural causes. 7 18 Klasen and Wink suggest that the high birth rate in India and China are mainly the result of selective abortions by sex. 13

Cultural preference

A school of academic thought suggests that female feticide can be seen through history and cultural background. In general, male babies were preferred because they provided labor and succession to the family name . Selective abortion of female fetuses is more common in areas where cultural norms value boys children more than girls for a number of social and economic reasons. 32 A child is often preferred as an “asset” because it can generate income and support the family; A daughter is a “liability”, since she will marry a man from another family, and therefore will not contribute financially to her parents. Female feticide is then a continuation, differently, of the practice of female infanticide or petty health care after the birth of girls that occurs in certain households. 33 Moreover, in some cultures boys are expected to take care of their parents in old age. 34 These factors are complicated by the effect of diseases on the masculinity index, where communicable and noncommunicable diseases affect men and women differently. 33

Unequal access to resources due to gender

Some of the variations in the rates of masculinity at birth and the implicit female feticide inferred may be due to unequal access to resources. As MacPherson (2007) suggests, there may be significant differences between boys and girls regarding gender-based violence and access to food, health and immunizations. This leads to high infant mortality among girls, which leads to changes in the masculinity index. 28

Unequal and gendered access seems to be strongly linked to socio-economic status. Specifically, poorer families are sometimes forced to ration food, with daughters who normally receive less priority than their children (Klasen and Wink 2003). 13 A 2001 Klasen study, however, reveals that this practice is less common among poorer families, but rises dramatically in families that are a little less poor. 13 A 2003 study by Klasen and Wink suggests that this practice is “related to greater economic independence of women and fewer cultural restrictions among the poorest sections of the population.” In other words, poorer families are usually less tied to cultural expectations and norms, and women tend to have more freedom to become heads of households out of necessity. 13

López and Ruzikah (1983) found that, when given the same resources, women tend to survive men at all stages of life after childhood. However, globally, resources are not always equitably allocated. Thus, some scholars argue that disparities in access to resources such as health, education and nutrition play at least a small role in the high sex ratios seen in some parts of the world. 13

Laws and regulations

India passed its first abortion-related law, the so-called Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act of 1971, which made abortion legal in most states, but specifies the legally acceptable reasons for abortion, such as the medical risk to abortion. Mother and rape. The law also establishes doctors who can legally offer the procedure and facilities where abortions can be performed, but did not anticipate female feticide based on advances in technology. 35 With the increasing availability of sex detection technologies throughout the 1980s in urban India, and claims of its misuse, the Government of India passed the Pre-Conception Diagnostic Techniques Act And Prenatal, 1994 (Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques Act -CPNDT-, 1994). This law was amended by the Preconception and Prenatal Diagnostic Techniques Act (Regulations and Prevention of Misuse) of 2004 to discourage and punish prenatal monitoring of sex and female feticide. However, there is concern that the PCPNDT law has been misapplied by the authorities. 2

The impact of Indian laws on feticide and its application is unclear. In 2009, the United Nations Population Fund and the Indian National Human Right Commission called on the Government of India to assess the impact of the law. In its 2010 report, India’s Public Health Foundation, a leading research organization, claimed there was a lack of awareness of the law in parts of India, an inactive role of the authorities, an ambiguity between some clinics Which offered prenatal care services and a role of the few medical professionals who took into account the law. 10 The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare of India has directed education and advertisements in the media to reach clinics and medical professionals to raise awareness. The Indian Medical Association has undertaken efforts to prevent prenatal sex selection, giving its members Beti Bachao insignia (saving the daughter) during their meetings and conferences. 10 36 However, a recent study by Nandi and Deolalikar (2013) argues that the 1994 PNDT Act may have had only a small impact by preventing just 106,000 female feticides for more than a decade. 37

According to a 2007 study by MacPherson, the Prenatal Diagnostic Techniques Act (PCPNDT Act) was highly publicized by NGOs and the government. Many of the ads used presented abortion as violent, creating fear of abortion in itself among the population. The ads focused on the moral and religious shame associated with abortion. MacPherson claims that this media campaign was not effective because some perceived it as an attack on his character, leading many to close, rather than opening a dialogue on the subject. 28 This emphasis on morality, MacPherson claims, increased the fear and shame associated with all abortions, which led to an increase in unsafe abortions in India. 28

The Indian government, in a 2011 report, has begun improving education for all stakeholders by reporting on its medium-term plan and the PCPNDT laws. In their communication campaigns, public misconceptions are being clarified, emphasizing that sex determination is illegal, but abortion is legal for certain medical conditions in India. The government is also supporting the implementation of programs and initiatives that seek to reduce gender discrimination, including media campaigns, to address the underlying social causes of gender selection. 10 36

Given the fall in the country’s child maleness index and the 2003 Supreme Court directive to state governments to enforce the law prohibiting the use of sex-determining technologies, the Ministry established the National Inspection and Monitoring (NIMC). Dr. Rattan Chand, Director (PNDT) was appointed the NIMC coordinator. The NIMC under the direction of Dr. Rattan Chand made incursions in some of the districts of Maharashtra, Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Delhi and Gujarat. In April, raids were carried out at three clinics in Delhi. In their reports to the chief secretaries of the respective States, the Committee notes that the authorities had failed to fulfill their duty to monitor or supervise the registered clinics. 38

Other recent policy initiatives taken by many Indian states, Guilmoto says, 6 seek to address the accepted economic disadvantage in girls by providing support to girls and their parents. These policies provide a conditional cash transfer and scholarships only available to girls, where payments to a girl and her parents are linked to each stage of life, such as when she is born, completion of childhood vaccination, joining school In the first grade, having completed their school grades 6, 9 and 12 and their marriage past the age of 21. Some states are offering higher pension benefits to parents who raise one or two girls. Different states in India have been experimenting with various innovations in their welfare policies, focusing on girls, in order to improve their conditions. For example, the state of Delhi adopted a pro-girl policy initiative (locally called the Laadli plan ), whose initial data suggest may be reducing the rate of birth at birth in the state. 6 39

Other answers

Increasing awareness of the problem has led to multiple campaigns by celebrities and journalists targeting targeted abortions. Aamir Khan dedicated the first episode, called ” Daughters Are Precious ” of his show ‘ Satyamev Jayate to raise awareness of this widespread practice, focusing primarily on West Rajasthan, which is known to be one of the areas where this practice is common. Their sex ratio fell to 883 girls per 1,000 children in 2011 from 901 girls per 1,000 children in 2001. The local government in Rajasthan after the broadcast of this show showed a rapid response, proving the effect of the media Communication and awareness-raising at the national level on the subject. Officials agreed to establish fast-track courts to punish those who perform sex-selective abortions. Six licenses were canceled ultrasound centers and issued warnings to 20 others over 40

This has been done on a smaller scale. Cultural interventions have been addressed through theater. “Pacha Mannu”, which deals with female infanticide / feticide, has been produced by the women’s theater group in Tamil Nadu. This work was exhibited mainly in communities that practice female infanticide / feticide and has given rise to a new definition of a methodology of awareness, opening various ways of understanding and subverting cultural expressions. 41

The High Court of Bombay stated that prenatal sex determination involves female feticide and that sex determination violated a woman’s right to live and was against the Indian Constitution. 2

The Beti Bachao campaign , or Save Girls , has been underway in many Indian communities since the early 2000s. The campaign uses the media to publicize the gender disparities that are created as a result of abortion Selective by sex. Beti Bachao activities include rallies, posters, short videos and television spots, some of which are sponsored by state and local governments and other organizations. Many celebrities in India have publicly supported the Beti Bachao campaign.


  1. Back to top↑ «2006 Handbook on Pre-Conception & Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques Act, 1998 and rules with Amendments» . Indian Ministry of Health and Family Welfare . Retrieved on June 14, 2015 . ‘Female foeticide or sex selective abortion is the elimination of the female fetus in the womb itself’.
  2. ↑ Jump to:a b c «UNICEF India» . UNICEF .
  3. Back to top↑ Grech, V; Savona-Ventura, C; Vassallo-Agius, P (2002). Unexplained differences in sex ratios at birth in Europe and North America . BMJ (Clinical research ed.) (BMJ, NCBI / National Institutes of Health) 324 (7344): 1010-1. doi :10.1136 / bmj.324.7344.1010 . PMC  102777 . PMID  11976243 .
  4. Back to top↑ India at Glance – Population Census 2011 – Final Census of India, Government of India (2013)
  5. ↑ Jump to:a b c Child Sex Ratio in India C Chandramouli, Registrar General & Census Commissioner, India (2011)
  6. ↑ Jump to:a b c Christophe Z Guilmoto, Sex imbalances at birth Trends, consequences and policy implications United Nations Population Fund, Hanoi (October 2011)
  7. ↑ Jump to:a b c d James WH (July 2008). «Hypothesis: Evidence that Mammalian Sex Ratios at birth are partially controlled by parental hormonal levels around the time of conception» . Journal of Endocrinology 198 (1): 3-15. doi : 10.1677 / JOE-07-0446 . PMID  18577567 .
  8. Back to top↑ Age Data Table C13 (India / States / UTs) Final Population – 2011 Census of India, Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India (2013)
  9. ↑ Jump to:a b Childhood masculinity index of 2001 versus 2011 Census of India, Government of India (2013)
  10. ↑ Jump to:a b c d IMPLEMENTATION OF THE PCPNDT ACT IN INDIA – Perspectives and Challenges Public Health Foundation of India, Supported by United Nations FPA (2010)
  11. ↑ Jump to:a b c Age Data – Single Year Age Data – C13 Table (India / States / UTs) Population Enumeration Data (Final Population) – 2011, Census of India, Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India
  12. Back to top↑ Therese Hesketh and Zhu Wei Xing, Abnormal Sex Ratios in Human Populations: Causes and Consequences, PNAS, September 5, 2006, vol. 103, no. 36, pp 13271-13275
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  14. Back to top↑ Sen, Amartya (1990), More than 100 million women are missing, New York Review of Books, 20 December, pp. 61-66
  15. Back to top↑ Kraemer, Sebastian. “The Fragile Male.” British Medical Journal (2000): n. p. British Medical Journal. Web. 20 Oct. 2013.
  16. Back to top↑ see:
    • James WH (1987). «The human sex ratio. Part 1: A Review of the Literature » . Human Biology 59 (5): 721-752. PMID  3319883 . Consulted on August 2011 .
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    • MARIANNE E. BERNSTEIN (1958). “Studies in the Human Sex Ratio.” A Genetic Explanation of the Wartime Secondary Sex Ratio . American Journal of Human Genetics 10 (1): 68-70. PMC  1931860 . PMID  13520702 .
    • France MESLÉ, Jacques VALLIN, Irina BADURASHVILI (2007). A Sharp Increase in Sex Ratio at Birth in the Caucasus. Why? How? . Committee for International Cooperation in National Research in Demography. Pp. 73-89. ISBN  2-910053-29-6 .
  17. Back to top↑ JAN GRAFFELLMAN and ROLF F. HOEKSTRA, A Statistical Analysis of the Effect of Warfare on the Human Secondary Sex Ratio, Human Biology, Vol. 72, No. 3 (June 2000), pp. 433-445
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  19. Back to top↑ T Vartiainen, L Kartovaara, and J Tuomisto (1999). ‘Environmental chemicals and changes in sex ratio: analysis over 250 years in Finland’ . Environmental Health Perspectives 107 (10): 813-815. doi : 10.1289 / ehp.99107813 . PMC 1566625 . PMID  10504147 .
  20. Back to top↑ Michel Garenne, Southern African Journal of Demography, Vol. 9, No. 1 (June 2004), pp. 91-96
  21. Back to top↑ Michel Garenne, Southern African Journal of Demography, Vol. 9, No. 1 (June 2004), page 95
  22. Back to top↑ Ciocco, A. (1938), Variations in the ratio at birth in USA, Human Biology, 10: 36-64
  23. Back to top↑ Jing-Bao Nei (2011), Non-medical sex-selective abortion in China: ethical and public policy issues in the context of 40 million missing females , British Med Bull 98 (1): 7-20
  24. Back to top↑ Jiang B, Li S. Nüxing Queshi and Sheu Anquan (2009), The Female Deficit and the Security of Society, Beijing: Social Sciences Academic, pp. 22-26
  25. ↑ Jump to:a b Mazza V, Falcinelli C, Paganelli S (June 2001). ‘Sonographic early fetal gender assignment: a longitudinal study in pregnancies after in vitro fertilization’. Ultrasound Obstet Gynecol 17 (6): 513-6. doi : 10.1046 / j.1469-0705.2001.00421.x . PMID  11422974 .
  26. Back to top↑ Mevlude Akbulut-Yuksel and Daniel Rosenblum (January 2012), The Indian Ultrasound Paradox , IZA DP No. 6273, Forschungsinstitut zur Zukunft der Arbeit, Bonn, Germany
  27. Back to top↑ «BBC NEWS – South Asia – India ‘loses 10m female births ‘ » . bbc.co.uk .
  28. ↑ Jump to:a b c d e MacPherson, Yvonne (November 2007). «Images and Icons: Harnessing the Power of Media to Reduce Sex-Selective Abortion in India». Gender and Development 15 (2): 413-23. doi : 10.1080 / 13552070701630574 .
  29. Back to top↑ A. Gettis, J. Getis, and JD Fellmann (2004). Introduction to Geography, Ninth Edition. New York: McGraw-Hill. Pp. 200. ISBN 0-07-252183-X
  30. Back to top↑ Johansson, Sten; Nygren, Olga (1991). «The missing girls of China: a new demographic account». Population and Development Review 17 (1): 35-51. doi : 10.2307 / 1972351 . JSTOR  1972351 .
  31. Back to top↑ Merli, M. Giovanna; Raftery, Adrian E. (2000). «Are they births underreported in rural China?». Demography 37 (1): 109-126. doi : 10.2307 / 2648100 . JSTOR  2648100 . PMID  10748993 .
  32. Back to top↑ Goodkind, Daniel (1999). “Should Prenatal Sex Selection be Restricted ?: Ethical Questions and Their Implications for Research and Policy.” Population Studies 53 (1): 49-61
  33. ↑ Jump to:a b Das Gupta, Monica, “Explaining Asia’s Missing Women”: A New Look at the Data “, 2005 Error in the<ref>quotation : Invalid label , the name” Gupta_2005 “is defined several times with different contents
  34. Back to top↑ Mahalingam, R. (2007). “Culture, ecology, and beliefs about gender in are preference caste groups”. Evolution and Human Behavior 28 (5): 319-329. [1]
  35. Back to top↑ “Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act 1971 – Introduction.” Health News RSS. Med India, nd Web. 20 Oct. 2013.
  36. ↑ Jump to:a b MTP and PCPNDT Initiatives Report Government of India (2011)
  37. Back to top↑ Nandi, A .; Deolalikar, AB (2013). “Does a legal ban on sex-selective abortions improve child sex ratios? Evidence from a policy change in India.” Journal of Development Economics 103: 216. [2]
  38. Back to top↑ Small gain for the girl child Front Line)
  39. Back to top↑ Delhi Laadli scheme 2008 Government of Delhi, India
  40. Back to top↑ Helen Pidd. ‘Indian campaign confronts the prevalence of female foeticide’ . The Guardian .
  41. Back to top↑ A. Mangai, “Cultural Intervention through Theater: Case Study of a Play on Female Infanticide / Foeticide,” Economic and Political Weekly , Vol. 33, No. 44 (Oct. 31 – Nov. 6, 1998), pp. . WS70-WS72http://www.jstor.org/stable/4407327