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Male bastion cracks: kids can take mum’s initial

Chennai, April 25: Five-year-old Murugan, the son of Valli and Karthik, can call himself V. Murugan in his school application form after the Tamil Nadu government decided to allow the option of children taking their mother’s initial.

The Jayalalithaa government will issue an order listing three options — for children to take the first letter of their mother’s name as the first initial and the first letter of their father’s name as the second initial (V.K. Murugan); or, to take only the first letter of their mother’s name as initial (V. Murugan); or, as at present, to take only the first letter of their father’s name as initial (K. Murugan).

Jayalalithaa announced this in the Assembly today, amid thumping of desks, after PMK MLA Kasambu Poomalai bragged that her party chief S. Ramadoss had told the cadre to give their children only the mother’s initial. Poomalai was cut short by social welfare minister B. Valarmathi, who said Ramadoss’ son and PMK’s heir apparent R. Anbumani took his father’s initial.

Party floor leader G.K. Mani rushed to Ramadoss’ defence, saying the directive was for newborns and that the PMK was the first party to correct the gender bias.

Welcoming the move, BJP state general secretary H. Raja said his party’s government in Gujarat had passed a similar Bill.

As the debate progressed, an uneasy Jayalalithaa suddenly said she had an “important announcement” to make. She asked education minister S. Semmalai to bring out a copy of an order passed by the previous ADMK regime and dismissed the claims of the PMK that it was the first to rectify the gender bias in names.

Jayalalithaa read out from a March 28, 1994 order of the school education department that allowed children to use the mother’s initial if the father was dead or the parents were separated. The government would now go a step further and allow the mother’s initial to be taken even when the father was present, she said.

“My previous government had already brought this about in 1994,” Jayalalithaa said. “The ADMK has been a pioneer even in this pro-woman measure.”

Though the 1994 order was implemented till 1996 when she was in power, perhaps “something mysterious” had happened during the DMK tenure from 1996-2001, Jayalalithaa said. When Semmalai tried to trace the order from the department’s file today, the original could not be found and a copy had to be obtained from a school, she added.

Jayalalithaa sent the minister to dig out the order while the debate was on after a Congress MLA, C. Gnanasekharan, went to her and pointed out that the ADMK was the first to introduce the move and not the PMK.

She asked Semmalai to probe if there was any attempt to “sabotage the good thing I had tried to do earlier” for women.

Jayalalithaa also said she would lead an agitation to correct the “injustice” meted out to women elected representatives who take the oath of office in Tamil. “When I took the oath while assuming office last year, I had to say Kudimagan (male citizens) and not the word’s feminine counterpart Kudimagal as they told me there is no such word in Tamil.” This was gross injustice against women and the word Kudimagal’ should come into normal usage, Jayalalithaa thundered.

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