Lara Dutta is not just one of the most beautiful and gifted actresses of her generation, currently filming for Blue, Banda Yeh Bindass Hai and Billo Barber. She is also a living embodiment of the concept of the three goods – mind, body and soul.
Lara was Miss Universe in 2000 and appears to have taken seriously all those things that beauty queens say during the interview stage. She is well known for her work on Aids Awareness but is lesser known for the important work she is doing with the United Nations Missing Programme where she is active in the promotion of Female Reproductive Rights.
Throughout the world, there is a tendency for more men to be born than women even in situations where there is no interference during pregnancy or at birth. The reasons for this are not entirely clear but Hamilton’s theory suggests that it may occur through an overshoot – essentially the species seeking to ensure that it always has enough males to ensure continuity. A larger number of men will die through accidents, war etc during the most fertile period of 13-33. In humans, therefore, the normal ratio is 996 women to every 1000 men.
However, in India, there has always been a tendency to value sons over daughters at birth – in 1901 the ratio was 972 due to infanticide. The ratio in India now has declined to 933. This may no longer be due to infanticide but is more likely linked to selective abortion. In states such as Kerala, where there is less access to ultrascan equipment and a much lower social acceptance of abortion, the ratio is much higher.
In some states, it is even worse. In the three big northern states of Punjab, Haryana and Jammu & Kashmir, it is 874, 861 and 900 respectively. These figures suggest that throughout India as a whole, 3.2 million girls go ‘missing’ every single year – as many as 240 million in the course of a single person’s lifetime. In the state of Punjab (population 40 million), 250,000 girls alone are ‘missing’ every single year. The situation is now so grave that the United Nations has coined a new word for it – Femicide.
It is illegal in India to abort a foetus purely on the basis of sex but this is clearly widely ignored.
It is this issue that concerns Lara Dutta, who is an Economics graduate and who has been a UNPFA Goodwill Ambassador since 2001. With the deep social concern of actors such as Lara and Nandita Das, it’s clear to see that Bollywood need not just be about being a pretty face.