Karnataka Health Minister Dr K Sudhakar comments ‘modern India women want to stay single’ is drawing harsh criticism. Mr Sudhakar was speaking at an event organised to mark the World Mental Health Day on Sunday, October 10, at Bengaluru’s National Institute of Mental Health and Neurological Sciences (NIMHANS). 

Calling the shift in thinking to be ‘not good’, the health minister said that modern Indian women want to stay single and do not want to get married even after being married. 

"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," he said.

Lamenting on the “western influence” sweeping into Indian society, he asserted that people don't want their parents to live with them anymore.

"Unfortunately, today we are going in a western way. We don't want our parents to live with us, forget about grandparents being with us," said the minister.

While on issues related to mental health with Indians, Sudhakar said every seventh Indian suffers from some kind of mental issue, adding, it could be mild to severe. 

However, according to him, Indians need not learn the art of stress management but should teach the world how to handle it. 

"Stress management is an art. This art we need not learn as Indians. We need to preach to the world how to handle stress, because yoga, meditation and Pranayama are the wonderful tools which our ancestors had taught the world thousands of years back," he said.

However, his views on modern women didn’t go well with people. All India Democratic Women's Association Vice President Vimala KS said, "It is the freedom of women whether to have a baby or not. He must have forgotten that a large section of women in this country does not have the rights over their bodies," she said, adding that such statements coming from the state’s health minister are not appropriate. 

"Being a minister, issuing a sweeping statement is not good and while being a Health Minister, is not acceptable. Let minister Sudhakar prove his statement. How many women have these choices? Like women, many men do not want to have children. Why does no one say anything to them?" Vimala asked. 

Equal rights activist Brinda Adige speaking to news agency IANS called Sudhakar's statement "sexist, patriarchal, and unbecoming of a minister." 

Criticising the health minister’s remarks, Kannada actor and social activist Chetan Ahimsa tweeted saying, “Health Min Sudhakar regressively claims it’s ‘not good’ that many women today dont want marriage or children. Why should women when they face the brunt of patriarchy via dowry/wedding expenses/curbed freedoms/sole parental responsibility? If you care about women, fix the problems.”

“No matter how much India progresses, the average Indian man will not change,” wrote another Twitter user. 

Several journalists have also taken to Twitter to condemn the minister’s statements.  

“Ah! The modern woman of India, the source of all problems. If only women would marry and stay at home we would solve unemployment, poverty, petrol and LPG prices, lack of hospital beds, potholed roads, electricity shortage, crime and hunger,” tweeted Faye D’Souza. 
Meanwhile, others pointed out that it was a “bizarre statement” to make on World Mental Health day. 

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