Friday, March 5, 2010

Distorted sex ratios in India: Haryana's lonely bachelors | The Economist

    • BALJEET SINGH dandles his baby daughter on his knee, a picture of contented fatherhood. Last year the 37-year-old Hindu truck driver became the envy of his friends when he married a 16-year-old Muslim from Assam, in India’s north-east. The unorthodox marriage suited both. Mr Singh’s romantic life had become a casualty of India’s preference for boy babies, which in his state, Haryana, has led to the most skewed sex ratio in India: 116 to 100, according to the 2001 census, compared with a national average of 108. By the age of 30, says Mr Singh, he had given up hope of finding a girl from his own village, Nandgaon, or from his state. His wife, Sona Khatum, comes from an impoverished family in one of India’s poorest states, though village rumour mutters that she may be an illegal migrant from Bangladesh. Mr Singh paid handsomely. “Here, I’ve always been made comfortable,” she says shyly, from beneath her veil.

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