Bengaluru: Facing flak on social media and from some party colleagues for his controversial statement on women preferring to remain single or childless, Karnataka health minister Dr K Sudhakar tried to justify his stand saying that what he said was based on a study.
To substantiate his claim, he cited a research paper published in the Indian Journal of Psychiatry and findings of YouGov-Mint-CPR Millennial Survey which shows that among millennials, 19 per cent aren't interested in either children or marriage. “My statement about younger generation shying away from marriage and reproduction is also based on a survey”, he said.
Another eight per cent want children, but are not interested in marriage, he added.
"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.
"I would like to clarify that I had no intention to single out women nor did my words mean so," Sudhakar clarified. He said that being a father of a daughter and medical doctor by training, he understood the sensitivities around women.
He also asked people to go through his full speech on his Facebook page.
"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."
In his speech at NIMHANS, the minister 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."
“Unfortunately, today, we are going the western way. We don’t want our parents living with us, forget about grandparents living with us,” he said, prefacing his comments about the choices of the modern Indian women.
The minister said 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', 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.
Sudhakar added that the Indian families are more intimate with the patient, and are capable of taking greater therapeutic participation than in the west.