By Soroor Ahmed (NVONews.Com)
Though a sizeable section of media often try to project him as a development-minded chief minister, best prime ministerial candidate within the BJP, good administrator and what not Narendra Modi has the knack to shoot his mouth off.
This time he has not said something outlandish about any political opponent or any other community. No, he has not commented on “Italian Soniaji”, “Mian Musharraf”, or “James Michael Lyngdoh”.
He has said something about the beti of Gujarat (daughters of Gujarat), which not only shocked the Congress leaders and other opponents, feminists, individual girls and women but also health experts––and in private some BJP men and women too. He said that women in his state are malnourished because Gujarat is 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.’ They have money but she’s beauty conscious, she’s not health conscious. So being a middle-class state is also a problem for me.”
How can the chief minister of a state, where 52 per cent children under five years old are stunted, or too short for their age, compared with 56 per cent in much backward and poor Bihar, 44 per cent in Karnataka, 31 per cent in Tamil Nadu and 25 per cent in Kerala, come out with such a statement?
Not only that as per the last data 70 per cent children between six and 59 months in Gujarat are anemic. Some 55 per cent of Gujarati women are anemic. In the latest hunger index it was ranked 13 among the 17 big states surveyed.
All these data go against Gujarat and its development. But that is not just the case as data and statistics sometimes confuse the people.
It needs just a little bit of common sense to understand that a girl becomes beauty conscious only after she becomes adult. And if Narendra Modi’s argument is to be believed it is only after reaching certain age that she refuses to take milk and quarrel with her mother over the issue.
Be it a male or female, usually a person grows up weak or anemic because of poor nourishment and diet while s/he is an infant or child. A rickety four year, eight year or 10 year old girl is mal-nourished not because she is beauty conscious and refuses to take milk as Modi would like Wall Street Journal readers to believe. She is weak because she does not get good food and proper care. In fact she would guzzle down a glass of milk in the first opportunity she gets.
A girl may become beauty conscious, but that much later in the life. But why Modi only talks about the middle class population and not about millions of poor girls and women. Girls belonging to this class have no scope of becoming beauty conscious.
Similarly his comment that “Gujarat is by and large a vegetarian state” is also disputable. Is it that only non-veg people—women or girl in this case—grow healthy and are not mal-nourished?
Whether Modi’s statement “is an insult to all women” as Arjun Modhwadia, the president of Gujarat Congress felt, it is certainly not the best way to accept the hard reality of the state.
Whether girls of Gujarat are beauty conscious or not–-why only Gujarat—can be debated elsewhere, what is not disputable is that Narendra Modi is a less duty conscious chief minister of his state. He is duty-bound to give a correct picture of the state he has been ruling for last over a decade and not make the fairer gender a subject of ridicule.