Saturday, November 24, 2012


Gujarat EDN
TOI 31AUG2012

Women activists say Modi should be speech conscious on malnutrition debate

Ahmedabad: Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi attributing malnutrition in the state to figure-conscious girls shunning food has outraged women organizations who feel that such frivolous statements do not befit the head of a state speaking on an international platform. Strong statements have been issued on how Modi should also acknowledge that there exists a Gujarat beyond the middle class and there are poor children including girls whose parents cannot afford milk. One agency even wrote an open letter to Modi on the issue.
    “Gujarat government data released in April 2012 shows that 6,324 children in Ahmedabad were severally malnourished,” said Poonam Kathuria of Society for Women Action and Training Initiative (SWATI). “A similar situation prevails in Banaskantha, Panchmahals, Sabarkantha and other districts. It is not that the government is not aware of the issue. Such trivialization reflects poorly on the head of the state.”
    “Gujarat is not just middle class and girls fussing over drinking milk. One needs to be come out of the ivory tower and acknowledge the reality,” said Trupti Shah of Vadodara-based Sahiyar.
    Indu Capoor of the Center for Health Nutrition Education and Training (CHETNA) said that the percentage of families where figure-conscious girls who have access to milk and other nutrition, but abstain fearing they will put on weight is very less. “In majority cases in Gujarat, prevalence of malnutrition is due to poor availability, access and absorption of food in children. Access to food is more limited to girls due to gender bias,” said Capoor.
    She said that data of malnutrition is Gujarat suggests that it is a greater problem in children below five years of age. Anemia also plagues more women and girls in rural areas as compared with urban areas.
    “It is shocking that you should attribute this to the state being largely 'middleclass' and vegetarian and obsession with body image among girls. These statements are not only lacking in fact but also reflect an amazing callousness and trivialization of the real issues of the people in the state, especially women and girls, for whom access to livelihood, education, healthcare and survival itself is a matter of everyday struggle,” said Rohit Prajapati of People’s Union of Civil Liberties (PUCL)
    Malnourishment in
    Gujarat is not because of the beauty conscious, but because of lack of food. Tribals in the state are anemic as they cannot afford green vegetables and other Iron-rich food. People cannot afford milk for their kids. Not just the poor, malnourishment is high among the middle income group. The state government should implement the Integrated Child Development Scheme. This will help the malnourished. Dr Prabha Taviad | CONGRESS MP, DAHOD
Over 70 per cent of dalit and adivasi women in Gujarat are
    suffering from malnutrition. Are they dieting to walk the ramp? People who can’t afford two meals a day are always dieting out of desperation. Modi is trying to hide his failure by calling people beauty-conscious. It was the Modi government that decreased the food given at midday meals. It was Modi who stopped distribution of fortified flour to the poor.
The chief minister is trying to hide the failure of his government in the health sector. It is now clear that falling health standards is not a priority of the state government. Modi has been unsuccessful in dealing with education and health. His statement is not only a joke, but also an insult to the women of Gujarat. The most anemic women are among tribals. Are they beauty conscious?
Arjun Modhwadia
We are the first state in the country to raise the issue of malnutrition. Gujarat is by-and-large a vegetarian state. They have money but they are beauty-conscious, not healthconscious. So being a middle-class state is also a problem for me. A large segment of the population in my state is middle-class. Second is vegetarianism. So a lot needs to be explained to both the beautyconscious and the healthconscious.
Narendra Modi | GUJARAT CM