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