Literally, Maharashtra's unwanted children - 222 girls from the state's Satara district will be renamed in a public festive ceremony later this week.
A survey by Maharashtra's health department had found 222 girls in the district named Nakoshi or Nakusa - a name which in Marathi means "unwanted".
The situation reflects the statistics of Maharashtra's skewed sex ratio, which is one of the worst in the country. The prevalent gender bias can be seen in the child sex ratio of the state which has dipped from 913 in 2001 to 883 in 2011. For parents who are desperate for a boy child to carry on the family name, naming their daughters Nakusa or unwanted is just a way of expressing their disappointment at having borne a girl.
Ahmednagar based social activist Sudha Kankaria, told the Sunday Times of India that children labelled as unwanted by their own parents are left with lasting scars. "As the girl grows, she feels humiliated, loses self-esteem and develops a complex. After marriage, she will be afraid to bear a female child," Kankaria told the newspaper.
Kankaria, is an ophthalmologist and President of Save The Baby Girl Mission, a project that seeks to save the female foetus from illegal sex determination. Her organisation along with the Satara Zilla Parishad carried out the survey where they identified 222 Nakusas - from newborns to 16 year olds.
"Typically, if a rural couple has one or two girls, they dislike it when their third child also turns out to be a girl. They then name her 'Nakusa'. Other derogatory names given to girls are 'Dagadi' and 'Dhondi' which means a stone," Satara district health officer, Bhagwan Pawar, told DNA.
Officials from the district administration have said they will allow the girls to choose their new names.
"Before the ceremony, our officers will visit their homes and allow them to select names of their choice. Quite naturally, girls are selecting names of their favourite personalities like Aishwarya Rai, Kareena Kapoor and Sakshi Tanwar," Pawar said in an interview to The Telegraph.
The girls will be presented with an certificates bearing their new names at a ceremony in Satara city on 21 October.
The state administration hopes this effort will restore the girls some of their dignity and promote the the girl child in a "progressive" Maharashtra which still throws at us stark reminders of its gender bias backwardness.
Watch the CNN-IBN report on Satara's "unwanted" girl child:
Updated Date: Dec 20, 2014 06:43:56 IST