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Chest Size Criteria For Women Forest Rangers In Haryana Sparks Dispute

The inclusion of chest size as a criterion for women aspiring to be forest rangers in Haryana has sparked controversy. Opposition parties criticise the decision as derogatory, while the government defends it citing past practices and national guidelines.

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Harnur Watta
New Update
Image credits: The Indian Express

Image credits: The Indian Express

In a move that has sparked widespread outrage and condemnation, the Haryana government's decision to include chest size measurements as part of the criteria for women aspirants applying for the positions of forest rangers and deputy rangers has been labelled as "objectionable," "derogatory," and a "Tughlaqi decree" by the opposition Congress party.
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The state government, however, has defended the decision, citing that such rules have been in place during previous recruitments.

The former chief minister of Haryana, Bhupinder Singh Hooda, expressed his strong opposition to the decision, asserting that women across the country would object to such a move. Hooda called on the BJP-JJP government to revoke this derogatory and objectionable decision, pointing out that previous recruitments, including those in the police force, had never employed such objectionable parameters.

Hooda's remarks came a day after the Haryana government announced its plans to begin the recruitment process for the positions of rangers and foresters in the state, to be conducted by the Haryana Staff Selection Commission (HSSC), starting from July 12.

The government spokesperson emphasised that this recruitment adheres to the Haryana Forest Service (Executive) Group C rules, 1998, which prescribe physical standards for height and chest for both male and female candidates. The spokesperson further noted that previous recruitments had adhered to these standards, resulting in the appointment of 22 women forest guards and four women foresters over time.

Responding to the government's claims, Hooda accused the current administration of making controversial decisions through the HSSC. He highlighted that the commission had asked derogatory questions about daughters in recruitment examinations, suggesting that insulting women had become a policy of the BJP-JJP coalition.

Senior Congress leader Randeep Surjewala also criticised the rule requiring chest measurements for women candidates, likening it to a "Tughlaqi decree." Surjewala took to Twitter, questioning the knowledge of Chief Minister Khattar and Deputy Chief Minister Dushyant Chautala, highlighting that the chest measurements of candidates are not assessed even in the recruitment of women police constables and sub-inspectors in Haryana.

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He further noted that such standards do not exist in the Central Police Organization either, characterising the rules as "stupid and cruel" and demanding their immediate retraction.

In response to the growing backlash, the state government justified the inclusion of chest measurements, citing it as a long-standing norm. The government spokesperson pointed out that even the Ministry of Environment, Forest, and Climate Change of the Government of India has prescribed physical standards for height and chest measurements for both men and women in their model guidelines.

It was emphasised that only women doctors and staff are involved in taking physical measurements of women candidates during the recruitment process, and this practice will be strictly followed in this year's selection process. The spokesperson also highlighted that neighbouring Punjab also imposes physical measurements for height and chest for both male and female candidates in the recruitment of forest field staff.

This is not the first time such a controversial criterion has stirred outrage. In 2017, the inclusion of a minimum chest circumference clause for women candidates seeking positions as Range Officers or Assistant Conservators of Forests in Madhya Pradesh had similarly incensed aspirants and activists.

The uproar surrounding the chest size criteria for women aspiring to be forest rangers and deputy rangers in Haryana continues to escalate, with critics emphasising the discriminatory nature of the rule and demanding its immediate removal. It remains to be seen whether the Haryana government will reconsider its decision in light of the mounting objections from opposition leaders and concerned citizens.


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