Every decade since independence in 1947, the gender imbalance in India has widened. Census statistics show fewer girls than boys being born or surviving. How many girls are missing? The shortfall in the number of girls under six compared to boys has grown from 4.2 million (1991) to six million (2001) to 7.1 million (2011). Los Angeles-based hip hop artist, poet and activist Satnam Narang is doing his part to help end gendercide in India, specifically the declining child sex ratio happening as a result of female foeticide and infanticide.
Narang released The Pushpa Project on December 17 to raise awareness of gendercide in India. He says his project was also inspired by the New Delhi gang rape tragedy one year earlier. Named after Satnam’s mother, The Pushpa Project has a four-song EP featuring intense lyrics and moving spoken-word and music from Satnam, indie pop singer-songwriter and former Voice contestant Sonia Rao, postcolonial pop rocker Saraswathi Jones, along with Saint Soldier and Sukhraj.
Hey mister, that’s my sister
Shoveled in the grave and nobody even kissed her
Hey mister, that’s my sister
– “Saint Soldier – Sister” (featuring Sukhraj)
It sickens me how people cite the scriptures
And believe a cow’s life is more sacred than my sisters
– “Sunshine” by Satnam, featuring Sonia Rao
The EP is free to download, but listeners are invited to donate any amount wished to support the project’s cause and efforts. All donations go to organizations working on the education and rescue efforts of neglected baby girls. These organizations include Unique Home — a center in Punjab, India, that looks after unwanted and abandoned newborn girls, Snehalaya — an organization that works to support and rehabilitate unwed mothers and victimized women, and Invisible Girl Project — a project whose aim is to raise global awareness of the loss of female lives in India. In an interview with The Aerogram, Satnam Narang discussed the project and shared why he’s doing his part to end gendercide.
The Pushpa Project was created to bring awareness to gendercide and the declining child sex ratio in India. What do you want people to know about these issues?
Despite the fact that there are laws on the books making sex determination illegal, the practice of female foeticide/feticide continues. Doctors are willingly violating the law. There are many clinics throughout India that have the warning posted that they cannot determine the sex of a child, yet they will still do it for a price. The laws aren’t being enforced. Even then, some families will go to extreme measures to kill (female infanticide) or neglect their baby girls because they’re unwanted. It’s rooted in the mindset of society Doctors are willingly violating the law.that a girl is a financial burden. The practice of dowry is one of the key reasons why families fear having a baby girl. There is an old saying in India that “Raising a daughter is like watering your neighbors’ garden.” It’s mindsets like these that make it a challenge for those of us who wish to prevent this gendercide.
The consequences are already proving to be dire. In areas where the child sex ratio is vastly skewed and there are men who remain unwed, girls are trafficked in through other parts of the country to make up for this imbalance. Efforts have been made over the last few years to highlight this problem with films like It’s a Girl! and an episode of Aamir Khan’s Satyamev Jayate. The Pushpa Project is my contribution, the contribution of the artists involved, the web designer, my marketing coordinator and our supporters to help ensure that this message continues to spread and even after its release, I plan on continuing to do my part by supporting efforts to end this gendercide.
How did the December 2012 New Delhi rape tragedy inspire the project?
I had already begun working on the song “Sunshine” in early 2012. I had gone in a particular direction with the lyrical content, but the tragedy in New Delhi left a tremendous impact on me. It made me angry and frustrated and I wanted to express that in the song. As the child sex ratio in India becomes even more skewed in favor of boys, the long term impact in terms of violence against women will become even worse than it is now.
Why did you name this project after your mother?
I named this project after my mother because she has instilled so many great values in me as a child and she taught me about humility and selfless service. She has been a wonderful role model to me and I wanted to honor her for that very reason. She is the first born in It’s about letting these flowers, these young girls grow up to achieve their fullest potential.her family and she has done so much during her lifetime. On “Dear Mama,” 2pac said: “There’s no way I can pay you back, but the plan is to show that I understand. You are appreciated.” I wanted her to know she was appreciated and I wanted her name to be associated with this project.
By the way, the name Pushpa means flower, which is also very symbolic of the cause. It’s about letting these flowers, these young girls grow up to achieve their fullest potential.