New Delhi, Aug 31 (IBNS) The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) on Friday expressed 'shock' at Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi's statement attributing malnutrition in the state to the behaviour of teenagers and vegetarianism.
The NCPCR said Modi trivialized a ´grave situation´.
In an interview to the Wall Street Journal on Thursday, Modi blamed the growing levels of malnutrition in Gujarat to figure-conscious girls.
"Studies on dietary patterns and intake suggest that far from being a personal choice, vegetarianism is related to the inability to purchase nutritionally rich animal-based foods such as milk, eggs, fish and meat and to suggest that the poor women and children of Gujarat are malnourished as a result of fashion-consciousness is a cruel joke," said Dr Shantha Sinha, Chairperson, NCPCR.
"We look forward to the Chief Minister to take responsibility for this dismal situation of gender dis-empowerment and inequitable distribution of resources,'' Sinha said.
Gujarat currently stands out as a state where despite high overall per capita income, there is a simultaneous decline in already poor indicators related to the nutrition, health and welfare of women and children, said NCPCR.
Anemia is a common malaise and sex ratios have continued to decline to an appalling child sex ratio of 886 as compared to the national average of 914.
The state rank 13 out of the 17 large states as far as hunger and malnutrition is concerned.
Data suggests that lowest income quintiles are the worst affected along with the ST population.
Body Mass Index (BMI) of women in the ST category in Gujarat is as high as 61 per cent compared to the all India figure amongst ST population of 46.6% and underweight in ST children is at 64.5% compared to the all India ST underweight status of 54.5 per cent.
We look to the Chief Minister so that he enables implementation of a robust health policy to correct these imbalances, Sinha said.
Modi found himself caught in a controversy over his comment that girls in his state were malnourished because they are more beauty conscious.
He made the remark in an interview with US business daily Wall Street Journal.
In the interview to the daily when asked how he would combat malnutrition in the state, where the rates are persistently high, Modi said: "Gujarat is by and large a vegetarian state. And secondly, 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.´ We will try to get a drastic change in this."
"Gujarat is going to come up as a model in this also. I can't make any big claims, because I don't have a survey in front of me yet," he said.
The remark of Modi drew flak with the Congress slamming him while the Twitterati also reacting sharply.
Congress Gujarat leader Arjun Modhwadia called the remark of Modi "an insult to women".