Gujarat's health indicators ‘troubling’, Modi conceded in interview



Ahmedabad: Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, whose statement about figure-conscious young middle-class girls has become controversial, has also admitted in the same interview that health indicators for women and children in Gujarat were "troubling."

The comment on anorexic middle-class girls drew sharp reactions, with Congress leader and Union Minister Ambika Soni saying that Modi was insensitive towards women, and state Congress calling it an insult to all women.

According to the text of the interview to Wall Street Journal, released by Modi's office here, he also said: "India's National Family Health survey is somewhat outdated, but the most recent set of data from 2005-2006 had some troubling health and malnutrition indicators for Gujarat.

"Some 52 percent of children under five years old were stunted, or too short for their age, compared with 56 per cent in Bihar, 44 per cent in Karnataka, 31 per cent in Tamil Nadu and 25 per cent in Kerala," Modi told the interviewer.

Further, he also quoted the survey to state that anaemia was a major problem in Gujarat, especially among women and children. "Among children between six and 59 months, 70 per cent were anaemic. Some 55 per cent of Gujarati women were anaemic."

The controversial comment read:...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'."

"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."

PTI