Chennai, Jan. 2: Human resources development minister Murali Manohar Joshi believes “fair sex” is wrong.
He was not referring to women but the terminology used in referring to women. “It does not register in me,” Joshi said at a function here to celebrate the silver jubilee of Meenakshi College for Women.
“I think we should call the ‘fair sex’ the ‘mother sex’,” he said, because the former concept is a western import.
Joshi asked the college teachers and students whether they were “willing to accept everything that comes from the West or emulate the very best in Indian culture”.
The former physics professor from Allahabad presented his argument to press the case. “Next to God, the most creative person in the universe is the mother,” he said. The “mysterious creative powers” women have are unique and “India needs good mothers”, he said.
Joshi recalled how he “learnt from our (college) principal” the piety implicit in referring to women as the “mother sex”.
The minister wandered into the realm of eugenics, unwittingly, when he said: “If we have good mothers, we will have good children who will grow up into good people and make a good country.”
Joshi took a dig at the western concept of women and evoked some laughter when he said the western concept of “evil” is derived from the word “Eve”. This might be purely “coincidental”, he said, but “you have to be very careful about the western concept of women”.
The Indian concept of women is very different, he said and drove home his argument for the new terminology. “Mothers are not evil, they are the fountainhead of all goodness.”
Joshi also urged the teachers, researchers and women students present to “seriously reconsider the aims of higher education”.
Education, he said, was not mere transfer of information or imparting of skills. Joshi quoted Swami Vivekananda when he said education is to “illuminate the consciousness within us”.
He referred to the new age of convergence of subjects and said “traditional compartmentalisation of courses” must be done away with. Even biological sciences and physical processes are converging, and biologists now need mathematics, so “we have to create new methods of integrating subjects in creative interdisciplinary approaches”.
Joshi argued for a “new system of teaching” at Indian institutions inspired by the “holistic (Indian) approach” of considering the universe as one.
Joshi returned to his mother parallel when he urged the women students to look beyond physical attributes. “Nowadays women are more conscious of their weight, slimness, etc. I am not against it. But take care of your nutrition, too. For, a healthy mother and a healthy child go together.”
On the occasion, Joshi inaugurated an auditorium. Former President R. Venkataraman unveiled a statue of K.R. Sundararajan, who founded the institution in 1975 with an engineering college.
College secretary and principal K.S. Lakshmi said it took “25 years of hard work” to build a set of institutions in the campus.
Tamil Nadu’s health and education minister S. Semmalai was also present.