[Model Answer] UPSC GSM2: Son Meta-Preference impact on India’s Gender Inequality Index (GII) at UNDP (250 words)

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Majid Hussain
  1. Mock Question for UPSC Mains GS2
  2. Introduction (Define / Origin)
  3. How it impacts Gender Inequality Index?
    1. Reproductive Health
    2. Education and Occupation
  4. Conclusion (futuristic note: yes कुछ तो करना होगा)
  5. Mistakes and Self-Assessment Benchmarks (SAB)

Mock Question for UPSC Mains GS2

  • What do you understand by the term “Son Meta-Preference”? How does it impact India’s performance in the Gender Inequality Index of UNDP ? (250 words, 15 marks)
  • ‘सन-मेटा-परेफरेंस / ‘पुत्री के बाद पुत्र की चाह’ शब्द को समझाइए. इस से यु.एन.डी.पी. के लिंग असमानता सूचकांक में भारत के प्रदशर्न को क्या असर होता है?
  • Relevance to UPSC GSM2-Syllabus? Welfare schemes for vulnerable sections of the population by the Centre and States and the performance of these schemes. (Because if the schemes were perfect, this wouldn’t have happened!)
  • Self-Study: Economic Survey 2017-18 Chapter 7 in Hindi or English. Click on links for FREE PDF.

Introduction (Define / Origin of Son Meta-Preference)

  • (Define) Son Meta-Preference is the phenomena where parents continue to produce children until the desired number of sons are born. According to Economic Survey-2017-18, there are over 21 million. ‘unwanted girls’ in India, by analysing the sex ratio of last child (SRLC).
  • (Origin) Due to strict implementation of Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (PCPNDT) Act in India, the sex-selective abortion of female foetus have become difficult. However, couples have adopted a different strategy where they’ll continue to produce children until desired number of sons are born. Economic Survey 2017-18 has used the term ‘Son Meta-Preference’ to describe this phenomenon. According to this survey, there are over 21 million ‘unwanted girls’ in India who were when the couples wanted a male-child.

How it impacts Gender Inequality Index?

United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)’s Gender Inequality Index (GII) measures the gender disparity among countries on following parameters:

  • Reproductive health as seen from MMR and adolescent birth rate.
  • Empowerment through higher education and parliamentary seats.
  • Labour market participation.

I’ve given statistical data only for educational purpose. You’re not expected to memorize it for descriptive answers.

UPSC Son Meta-Preference
India’s Son Meta-Preference affects its GII rank in following manner:

Reproductive Health

  • Due to Son Meta-Preference, the wife is often forced to produce more than two children, which is detrimental to her health.
  • And as such girls and women are neglected in their food and health needs. Majority of them suffer from anaemia and malnutrition. As a result, India’s Maternal Mortality Ratio (MMR) is 174 deaths per 1 lakh live births.
  • Since daughters are seen as burden, poor parents are keen to marry them off as soon as possible. Childmarriages lead to early pregnancy. For India, 23 children out of every 1000 children are born by mothers in the 15-19 age group. In other words, Adolescence Birth Rate is high.
  • Having child at an early age hinders the mother in pursuing higher studies and career ambitions for herself.

Education and Occupation

  • Since sons are given preference over daughters in education and nutrition, the girls lag behind. Less than 40% of Indian women complete secondary education.
  • As a result, their share in jobs and politics also remains dismal.
  • India’s female Labour Force Participation Rate is less than 30%, whereas in China it’s more than 60%
  • India’s female share in parliament seats is less than 12% whereas for China it’s more than 24%.

Conclusion (futuristic note: yes कुछ तो करना होगा)

  • Sustainable Development Goal SDG# 5 requires India to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls. Son-meta preference is an obstacle in this.  For both human and economic development of India, it’s imperitve that we address this mentality of giving preference to sons over daughters. OR
  • While initiatives such as Beti Bachao Beti Padhao and Sukanya Samridhi Yojana are important steps in gender empowerment, yet, India’s GII rank has fallen from 127 in 2017 to 130 in 2018. It shows that Government schemes alone can’t reduce the gender inequality until the collective will and mindset of Indian society changes.

Mistakes and Self-Assessment Benchmarks (SAB)

Parameter Marks Benchmarks
Introduction 0-1-2
  • +2: marks if it contains keywords: Economic survey 201718, and definition of Son Meta-Preference.
  • One mark if only the definition is given.
Conclusion 0-1-2
  • 0 marks, if quoting too many articles in conclusion 14,15,16,39. Evaluator is supposed to get a dream about what those articles deal with and how they’re linked with SMP!!?
  • 0 marks for writing ordinary conclusion that ‘Because of aforementioned reasons, India lags behind other countries in GII.” This is a 250 words question, you’re supposed to have some futuristic keywords, name of schemes, policies etc. in the conclusion.
Body 0 to 4 marks
  • Not more than 2 marks if only repetitive narration of ‘daughters are neglected in food and education’. You’ve to link it with the parameters of Gender inequality index.
Logical structure -1 to 0
  • (-1) if concluding that strict implementation of PCPNDT act is required. But, that was not the problem in the first place in this premise. Daughters are not killed, they’re allowed to be born but neglected- that’s the premise.
  • (-1) Writing “couple will not produce second child if their first one is a son. It leads to an imbalance child sex ratio which hurts our ranking in gender inequality index.” But GII doesn’t measure child-sex ratio.
Concise expression -1 to 0
  • (-1) if writing long essay on why Indian couples prefer sons over daughters due to social and religious reasons.
Language -1 to 0
  • (-1) If using English words in vernacular language.
Total Marks out of 15 0 to 8
  • After adding / subtracting above parts, give yourself NOT less than zero and not more than eight marks.

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