Child panel head says priest to decide if child needs nutrition, kicks up row
Himanshi Dhawan, TNN, Feb 9, 2011, 03.45am IST
NEW DELHI: "My suggestion is to appoint a Brahmin priest in each of these centres and require the priest to verify the horoscope of every child brought to the centre. After studying a child's horoscope if the priest is of the opinion that the child will grow into a good citizen of this country, it must be provided treatment at the centre. For the rest, I would say, let us leave them to their fate..."
This statement allegedly made by Madhya Pradesh's child rights panel chief Justice Sheela Khanna to tackle malnutrition has raised the hackles of activists. They have demanded that the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) take action against Khanna. NCPCR chairperson Shanta Sinha has written to the state commission asking for a response adding that if true the remarks were "obnoxious" and flouts child rights.
Condemning the blatantly casteist remark, centre for child rights co-director Bharti Ali said, "It is not about sensationalizing it as a dalit issue (which of course it is), but to also look at how the state commissions for child rights are set up and whether its members are really capable of protecting children's rights."
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Incidentally, 60% of MP's children are malnourished while 12% are severely malnourished and in dire need of immediate care. The controversial remarks were allegedly made during a conversation between Khanna and activists from Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) in a closed door meeting on nutrition.
Khanna has subsequently denied making any such statement, and has written to AHRC for a retraction. When contacted by TOI she said, "I would never have made such foolish and absurd statements. I think there was some misunderstanding."
The AHRC report quotes the former judge as saying, "Nutrition Rehabilitation Centres is not a solution for the millions of malnourished children. But now that the centres are there we must effectively use them. My suggestion is to appoint a Brahmin priest in each of these centres and require the priest to verify the horoscope of every child brought to the centre. After studying a child's horoscope if the priest is of the opinion that the child will grow in to a good citizen of this country, it must be provided treatment at the centre. For the rest, I would say, let us leave them to their fate...if not where do we stop?...We cannot spend government money like this..."
Bijo Francis from ACHR's South Asia desk said the statement was made during a conversation and was not a written statement or an official order
courtesy - Times of india
http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2011-02-09/india/28545095_1_child-rights-shanta-sinha-priest - feb -9 -2011