Skip to main content

To link Gujarat malnutrition to beauty conscious girls is a joke; it disguises ground realities: Top gender expert

Counterview Desk
Senior gender expert, Prof Pam Rajput, who chaired the High Level Committee (HLC) on the Status of Women, formed by the Government of India (GoI), has heavily come down on Prime Minister Narendra Modi's controversial statement three years ago, where he attributed malnutrition in Gujarat to 'beauty conscious' young girls.
In an interview with the US daily "Wall Street Journal" Modi, explaining the challenge of malnutrition in Gujarat, had said, "Gujarat is by and large a vegetarian state. Gujarat is also a middle-class state. The middle-class is more beauty conscious than health conscious -- that is a challenge. If a mother tells her daughter to have milk, they'll have a fight. She'll tell her mother, 'I won't drink milk. I'll get fat'."
Talking with newspersons in Ahmedabad, where she had come to attend a workshop organized by  a top NGO network, Working Group for Women and Landownership (WGWLO), on women cultivators' right to land, Rajput said, without naming Modi, that those who seek to link malnutrition in Gujarat being beauty conscious are "making a joke and disguising ground realities."
Rajput said, "There are two type of women: Those who are undernourished because they do not get anything to eat, and there are others who do not eat because they want to go on the ramp. The latter in an extreme, minuscule minority. You must go to the interior areas of India to find out whether people have anything to eat and see poverty to understand undernourishment of women."
In an indirect allusion to what is happening in Central Gujarat's milk-rich areas, where women are not fed with milk, as it is a commodity which needs to be sold for want of money, Rajput said, "Today, Punjab is competing with Bihar in undernourishment. Families do not feed milk to girls, because it has to be sold in the market. This is causing anemia among girls."
Rajput, who is former professor of the Punjab University, submitted her report to the GoI in June 2015. She said, the report has been "accepted" by the GoI, and its executive summary has been placed on the website of the Ministry of Woman and Child, while the final report will be uploaded next month. However, a search of of the website suggested that the Page does not exist (click HERE to see).
In July, the ministry organised a one workshop discuss recommendations of the Rajput committee report, attended by representatives of 22 Ministries of Government of India, 10 State Governments and 22 Civil Society Organizations. During the workshop, she reportedly highlighted the areas requiring action, especially legal aspects, financial inclusion, skill development, and so on.
The report wants the GoI to formulate a National Policy and Action Plan to end violence against women, even as strongly insisting that a separate committee should be set up to study the status of Muslim women in the country, which should study the impact of identity politics on Muslim women as such politics leads to communal riots and revives forces that impose outdated values on women.
The report takes strong exception to the two-child norm, saying the norm should be revisited as it is related to missing girl children. Recommending dialogue with Hindu religious leaders to arrest the falling sex ratio, it says, they should be asked to tell communities to include daughters in rituals and practices.
One of the most controversial recommendations of the report is make marital rape an offence, pointing out, this will bring down son preference related to socio-cultural practices. It also talked of allowing marital and sexual choices to be protected through amendments to IPC section 377, thus legalizing same sex relationship.
"We have highlighted in the report that while laws do exist to protect women, sensitivity among government officials, especially at the middle and lower levels, is lacking to implement them", Rajput told newspersons, pointing towards the issues discussed in it -- declining sex ratio, economic disempowerment of women, increasing incidence of violence against women, environmental issues which are linked to increasing incidence of cancer among women, and so on.

Comments

TRENDING

India under Modi among top 10 autocratizing nations, on verge of 'losing' democracy status

By Rajiv Shah
A new report, prepared by a top Swedish institute studying liberal democracy, has observed that there has been a sharp “dive in press freedom along with increasing repression of civil society in India associated with the current Hindu-nationalist regime of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.” The report places India among the top 10 countries that “have autocratized the most”. Other countries that have been identified for rolling towards autocracy are -- Hungary, Turkey, Poland, Serbia, Brazil, Mali, Thailand, Nicaragua and Zambia.

Savarkar 'criminally betrayed' Netaji and his INA by siding with the British rulers

By Shamsul Islam*
RSS-BJP rulers of India have been trying to show off as great fans of Netaji. But Indians must know what role ideological parents of today's RSS/BJP played against Netaji and Indian National Army (INA). The Hindu Mahasabha and RSS which always had prominent lawyers on their rolls made no attempt to defend the INA accused at Red Fort trials.

Gujarat link of controversial US doctor who 'forced' WHO quiz Trump's wonder drug

By Rajiv Shah
A top American doctor, Sapan Sharankishor Desai, born and raised in the “affluent” North Shore (Chicago) region of Illinois by Indian parents, at one point of time involved in NGO activity through  dedicated to “improving” the lives of the impoverished in Gujarat, is in the eyes of a major international storm following his paper (retracted) in a “Lancet” questioning Donald Trump-promoted drug hydroxychloroquine.

Border conflict? RBI nod India's 'brotherly' help to China internationalise its currency

By Bhabani Shankar Nayak*
In the middle of a global pandemic, China started an unprovoked border conflict with India. It unraveled trust deficit and ties between the two neighbours. As thousands of Chinese troops tried occupying Indian territory, the Narendra Modi-led BJP government directs the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to allow the Bank of China to start regular banking services in India. The Bank of China will now operate in India like any other commercial banks.

RSS supremo Deoras 'supported' Emergency, but Indira, Sanjay Gandhi 'didn't respond'

By Shamsul Islam*
National Emergency was imposed on the country by then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi on June 25-26, 1975, and it lasted for 19 months. This period is considered as ''dark times' for Indian democratic polity. Indira Gandhi claimed that due to Jaiprakash Narayan's call to the armed forces to disobey the 'illegal' orders of Congress rulers had created a situation of anarchy and there was danger to the existence of Indian Republic so there was no alternative but to impose Emergency under article 352 of the Constitution.

Dalits in India, Blacks in US suffer 'similar' humiliation: Macwan drafts letter to Trump

Counterview Desk
Well-known human rights activist Martin Macwan, recipient of the prestigious Robert F Kennedy Human Rights Award in 2000, has drafted an open letter to US President Donald Trump following the disturbing turn of events with the murder of George Floyd, leading to widespread protests in the US. He has sought signatures of concerned citizens before sending it to Trump.

Clean chit to British rulers, Muslim League? Karnataka to have Veer Savarkar flyovers

By Shamsul Islam*
The BJP government of Karnataka led by BS Yediyurappa is going to honour Hindutva icon VD Savarkar by naming two of the newly built major flyovers in Bangalore and Mangalore after him. There was a huge uproar against this decision of the RSS-BJP government as many pro-Kannada organisations with opposition parties and liberal-secular organizations questioned the logic to ignore so many freedom fighters, social reformers and others from within the state.

Hurried nod to Western Ghat projects: 16 lakh Goans' water security 'jeopardised'

Counterview Desk
Taking strong exception to "virtual clearances" to eco-sensitive projects in the Western Ghats, the National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM) in a statement has said urged for a review of the four-lane highway, 400 KV transmission line and double tracking of the railway line through the Bhagwan Mahavir Wildlife Sanctuary and Mollem National Park in Goa.

Disturbing signal? Reliance 'shifting focus' away from Indian petrochemical sector

By NS Venkataraman*
Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL), a large Indian company, has expanded and grown in a spectacular manner during the last few decades, like of which no industrial group in India has performed before. RIL is now involved in multi various activities relating to petroleum refineries, petrochemicals, oil and gas exploration, coal bed methane, life sciences, retail business, communication network, (Jio platform) media/entertainment etc.