A 21-day-old baby girl was found floating down the Ganges in a colourful wooden box by an Indian boatman who heard her cries from the riverbank.

Gullu Chaudhary fished the box out of the water and found the baby alive cushioned in a bright red blanket with a horoscope card listing the time and date of birth and a note naming the girl “Daughter of the Ganga”.

Videos taken by onlookers show Mr Chaudhary cradling the baby in his arms as people gathered around. The Uttar Pradesh government said he would receive full government benefits, including a house, for his heroics.

It added that authorities had launched an investigation into how the newborn had ended up in the river and said the government would bear the full cost of the baby’s upbringing.

The authorities have not given a motive behind the abandonment of the baby in the River Ganges but India’s gender ratio is one of the worst in the world. A 2020 report published by the United Nations Population Fund revealed there are 45.8 million missing female births in India over the last 50 years.

The moment the baby girl was discovered

Credit: News Fiesta / SWNS.COM

While sex-selective abortions are illegal they remain commonplace. Stories of abandoned baby girls being discovered outside hospitals, shelters and drain pipes are also regularly reported in the Indian media.

Despite many campaigns to change the perception, girls are still seen as a financial burden in many poor, rural households.

Families must pay an expensive dowry when their daughter gets married and, unlike sons, will not be given the opportunity to work on the family’s farmland or in local industry.

Uttar Pradesh is one of India’s poorest states and the ratio of boys to girls is one of the most skewed in the country. There were only 856 females to 1,000 males in the district of Baghpat, according to the 2011 Indian government census.

A Telegraph investigation previously revealed that the gender imbalance in Uttar Pradesh has led to polygamy, whereby impoverished women were being forced to marry multiple men.