Political uproar over Harsh Vardhan`s sex education comments

Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan`s views on "So-called `sex education` to be banned. Yoga to be made compulsory” stoked a big controversy on Friday.

Last Updated: Jun 27, 2014, 23:07 PM IST

Zee Media Bureau

New Delhi: Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan`s views on "So-called `sex education` to be banned. Yoga to be made compulsory” stoked a big controversy on Friday.

A day after being criticised for his opposition to sex education, Dr Harsh Vardhan today clarified his position, saying he was just against the present form of sex education imparted to students in Indian schools. Slamming the UPA government`s Adolescence Education Programme (AEP), he said the Congress-ruled state had also opposed it.

"I have clarified that the view expressed on the web site was entirely my own and made in the context of the UPA government`s 2007 decision to introduce the Adolescence Education Programme (AEP) in its original form," he said in a statement.

He added, as chief ministerial candidate of his party in the 2013 Delhi assembly election, he had "full right to make transparent his agenda for education, among other subjects of governance. Value-based school learning processes are common in all countries and he had intentioned implementing such a format in Delhi`s schools".

"Crudity and graphic representation of culturally objectionable symbols as manifested in the UPA`s so-called sex education programme cannot be called sex education. Every education system must strive to have an ideal curriculum and to that extent my stand is valid.

The minister, who is on an official visit to the US, said: "I am a medical professional who has embraced rationalism and I whole-heartedly support pedagogy that is scientific and culturally acceptable. Anything abrasive to common sensibilities and articulated as such by responsible persons should be discarded and replaced by consensually accepted learning processes."

The minister, who had held the education portfolio (along with health) in the BJP`s Delhi government between 1993 and 1998, said he "introduced several lasting reforms in the curriculum of the state`s schools in consultation with experts. There was a sex education component in the curriculum then too but nobody reported objections with it".

Sex education that builds societies free of gender discrimination, teenage pregnancy, HIV-AIDS proliferation, pornography addiction, etc. should be the goal," he added.
With this remark Vardhan, who is presently on an official visit to the United States, gave enough ammunition to the rival parties to hit back.

Congress party hit out at Vardhan, saying, `who is Harsh Vardhan to decide what is moral and what is vulgar?`

“I have great respect for Dr Harshvardhan but he seems to be behind the times,” senior Congress leader Shashi Tharoor said.
While Aam Aadmi Party volunteer Alka Lamba said, “When I read his (Vardhan`s statement I didnt know whether to laugh or to cry.”

Social activist Abha Singh also criticized Vardhan by saying, “ Its a very careless statement from Dr Harshvardhan.”

Maenwhile, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) staunchly defended its minister Harshan Vardhan, saying that it was his views of the past and has clarified since then.