BENGALURU: Karnataka Health Minister Dr K Sudhakar on Monday said his statement on modern women unwilling to marry and bear children at an event in NIMHANS was taken out of context and that he had no intention of singling out women and it was based on a survey, which cited statistics on what the younger generation felt about it.
During the World Mental Health Day at the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurological Sciences (NIMHANS) on Sunday, Sudhakar had said, “Today, I am sorry to say this, lots of modern women in India want to stay single. Even if they get married, they don’t want to give birth. They want surrogacy. So there is a paradigm shift in our thinking, which is not good.” Issuing a clarification on Monday, Sudhakar said, “It is unfortunate that a small part of my address out of the nineteen and a half minutes long speech during the World Mental Health Day programme at NIMHANS on Sunday is taken out of context and thereby losing out on the larger point I was trying to make at the prestigious National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences.”
He said that being a father of a daughter and medical doctor by training, he understood the sensitivities around women and also the mental health issues.
Sudhakar said that it is widely established through research and studies that in a situation where the mental health resource is a scarcity, families form a valuable support system, which could be helpful in management of various stressful situations.
Indian society is collectivistic and promotes social cohesion and interdependence. The traditional Indian joint family, which follows the same principles of collectivism, has proved itself to be an excellent resource for the care of the mentally ill, he said.
“Unlike western society, which puts the impetus on ‘individualism’, the Indian society is ‘collectivistic’ in that it promotes interdependence and co-operation, with the family forming the focal point of this social structure,” the minister said.
According to him, the Indian and Asian families are therefore, far more involved in caring of its members and also suffer greater illness burden than their western counterparts.
Sudhakar added that the Indian families are more intimate with the patient, and are capable of taking greater therapeutic participation than in the west.
To substantiate his claim, he cited a research paper published in the Indian Journal of Psychiatry.
Sudhakar said his statement about younger generation shying away from marriage and reproduction is also based on a survey.
The findings of YouGov-Mint-CPR Millennial Survey shows that, among millennials, 19 per cent aren’t interested in either children or marriage, the Minister said. He added that another eight per cent want children, but are not interested in marriage.
“Among post-millennials (or Gen Z adults), 23 per cent aren’t interested in either children or marriage. As in the case of millennials, eight per cent want children, but are not interested in marriage. There are very little gender-wise differences in these trends. It is applicable to both boys and girls,” Sudhakar said.
The minister said he was trying to convey that youth can find solution and solace to mental health issues like anxiety, depression and stress in our traditional family and its value system, which offers a wonderful support system.
“I would like to clarify that I had no intention to single out women nor did my words mean so,” Sudhakar clarified. He also asked people to go through his full speech on his Facebook page.