Sure, we all love heroic vampires who fight evil lawyers, but what about medical equipment salesmen who help impoverished families kill off unwanted female babies?
Female infanticide has been exacerbated in South Asia in part due to widespread ultrasound machine sales. – a report by Rehtafeht Johannus Lihp
What does corporate greed sell like? Well in India we find:
- The female to male sex ratio is declining.
- Female fetus abortion is widespread in India.
- Indian families want boys.
- Girls are culturally seen as a financial burden.
- Boys are culturally seen as a blessing.
- Ultrasounds are often used to determine an unborn child’s sex.
- General Electric Co. is by far the largest seller of ultrasound machines in India.
- The Indian government has made it illegal for doctors to disclose the sex of fetuses.
- The Indian government has required registration of clinics.
- GE has teamed with banks to finance the sale of its machines.
- GE has made ultrasound machines more affordable.
- Local scan centers are largely unable to track the mothers-to-be after they leave the clinic.
- India regulators are unable to see if the women have had abortions after receiving ultrasounds.
Profit over People Analysis:
India and China have a cultural history of desiring male children over female children. This has led to a drastic skewed sex ratio. The downturn in female births to male births has been recorded as low as 800 female births to every 1000 male births in parts of India. General Electric Co. has led the sale of ultrasound machine in India since the 1990’s. The company was able to tap into an existing distribution network and sells its products to locations that do not even have constant running water or electricity. The Indian government has attempted regulation on the sale of the machines, but there is clear evidence that this regulation has only temporarily created a decrease in GE ultrasound machine sales. Not one for holding sentimental market segments, GE sold off its iconic home appliance segment to Electrolux for over $3 Billion and NBC to free up capital and focus for segments with more obvious growth potential. The General Electric stock price fell by 50% in 2017. General Electric was one of the original 12 components of the Dow Jones Industrial Average and is the only firm still listed in the Average. If the stock of General Electric does not continue to recover, it could be dropped from the prestigious stock index. These facts explain how voluntarily removing the firm’s products from the lucrative Indian market segment is an illogical move for the firm as it attempts to regain lost market share and grow into an undeniably global firm.
The Indian government has required registration of clinics owning and operating ultrasound machines. There have been many instances where clinics are unregistered or machines are not traceable from buyer to seller to operator. There is inadequate patient documentation to determine whether if after receiving an ultrasound, a woman then has an abortion. The government has tried to increase the birth of females in low female birth districts by providing lodging, uniforms, bicycles and books. General Electric Co. is of the opinion that it it the role of the government, not the companies providing the machines to solve the sex skew ratio dilemma. Education and culture change are offered by GE Healthcare as solutions to female infanticide, not a voluntary decrease in sex determining machine sales.
The problem for General Electric Co. is similar to the problem faced by firms such as Phillip Morris International, business is too good and it looks immoral and socially irresponsible. GE is providing healthcare products to clinics that need the equipment to provide adequate care to individuals in need. There is much public debate that there is misuse of the GE products and a subsequent lack of birth rate for 50 percent of the Indian human species. Public education plans and social infrastructure development funded by General Electric Co. would go a long way in creating a much more positive image GE’s role in light of India’s female infanticide dilemma.
The company could further work with the Indian government in this direction and support the government in developing legislation that would increase the female to male birth ratio. One only has to look to neighboring China to recognize the effect of population control regulation. A temporary Indian two-female-child-to-one-male-child restriction might be in order if the problem exacerbates further. Long held cultural biases will be hard to change. There must be some sort of intervention either by the population or by the companies who operate in India or by the government itself; because the unborn females of India are unable to defend themselves.
- Cateora, Philip R., Gilly, Mary C., & Graham, John I, International Marketing, 15th Edition, McGraw Hill Companies, 2010
- CNN (2018), http://money.cnn.com/2018/01/24/investing/ge-sec-investigation-insurance-accounting/index.html
- Dion, GE Sells Appliance Division; Long-Term Play Becomes Clearer (2014), Breaking Alpha, https://seekingalpha.com/article/2492495-ge-sells-appliance-division-long-term-play-becomes-clearer