A Jain Sannyasi’s Radical Advice for Addressing the Gender Ratio in Northern India

By K S Venkataraman

The Digambar (literally, sky-clad) Jain Sannyasi (monk) Tarun Sagar addressed the Haryana legislative assembly in late August, bluntly talking about social and political issues amid applause and laughter from lawmakers. He is known for kadve pravachan (literally “bitter discourses”), kadve because of the harsh truths he candidly conveys.

The Muni lauded Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s call for ‘beti bachao, beti padhao’ (“Educate Girls, Save Girls”).

For a sannyasi, he was well attuned to current events: he lauded India’s “daughters” Sakshi Malik and PV Sindhu, the two Indian athletes among the 160-plus Indian Olympic contingent to return home with Olympic medals, for “saving India from disgrace” at the Rio Olympics.

The Jain Sannyasi (monk), Muni Tarun Sagar, addressing the Haryana Assembly.

The Jain Sannyasi (monk), Muni Tarun Sagar, addressing the Haryana Assembly.

He addressed Haryana’s very low girls-to-boys gender ratio on account of gender selection and female infanticide (for children 6 years and younger, the ratio is 839 girls to 1000 boys, with the India’s national average 919 girls to 1000 boys.)  Left to nature and unmolested by modern technology, this ratio is 995 girls to 1000 boys at birth.  As an aside, less than 1% of live human births are Intersex, births in which the newborns do not fall into the clear-cut male-female binary classification.

The Jain sannyasi said there are not enough women for young Haryanvi men to marry. To reverse the skewed gender ratio, he offered these radical changes in public behavior:

  • politicians having daughters should be given preference for contesting elections,
  • people should not marry off their daughters into families not having daughters; and
  • sannyasis should not take bhiksha (alms) from families that do not have daughters.

The message drew applause from the lawmakers.  ♣

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