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Indian Boys

INDERGARH, India -- General Electric Co. and other companies have sold so many ultrasound machines in India that tests are now available in small towns like this one. There's no drinking water here, electricity is infrequent and roads turn to mud after a March rain shower. A scan typically costs $8, or a week's wages.

GE has waded into India's market as the country grapples with a difficult social issue: the abortion of female fetuses by families who want boys. Campaigners against the practice and some government officials are linking the country's widely reported skewed sex ratio with the spread of ultrasound machines. That's putting GE, the market leader in India, under the spotlight. It faces legal hurdles, government scrutiny and thorny business problems in one of the world's fastest-growing economies.

"Ultrasound is the main reason why the sex ratio is coming down," says Kalpana Bhavre, who is in charge of women and child welfare for the Datia district government, which includes Indergarh. Having a daughter is often viewed as incurring a lifetime of debt for parents because of the...