Kerala State Women’s Commission (KSWC) has registered a case against Indian film actor Sreenivasan following a complaint of his insensitive comments towards Anganwadi teachers. The association of teachers filed a petition against the actor for the remarks he made against them during an interview, and KSWC took up the case to open an enquiry into the matter.
The petitioners felt that his comments, which went viral on social media, “cast Anganwadi teachers in poor light.”
Sreenivasan’s Comment and KSWC’s Case
In an interview with Kaumudy TV, Sreenivasan said that Anganwadi teachers were not well-equipped to pass on ample knowledge to children. His remark, originally in Malayalam, has been translated by The News Minute as: “In Japan, teachers who know psychology and psychiatry teach kids of kindergarten and playschool. Here, is it like that? Women with no education and who do not get any other jobs are made Anganwadi teachers. These kids grow amongst them, and can only grow to their standard.”
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Shahida Kamal, KSWC member, told The Hindu that Sreenivasan’s statements were “gender insensitive”, “misogynist”, and had anguished the sentiments of Anganwadi teachers. The petitioners who complained felt that his comments, which went viral on social media, “cast Anganwadi teachers in poor light.” Kamal said that KSWC would “soon issue a summons to Mr Sreenivasan.”
When The Hindu reached out to Sreenivasan for comment, he said he hadn’t meant to offend anyone. He maintained that he had only meant “rural children in Kerala did not have access to such enlightened mentoring.” He claimed it was possible his comments were taken out of context and shared online.
Anganwadis in Kerala
“As per the Anganwadi Recruitment Notice 2020, women with tenth or 12th standard pass or diploma from a recognised university were eligible to apply for the post of teachers in the rural child care centres. According to the website of the Social Justice Department, there are 33,115 Anganwadis in Kerala and 60,000 caretakers,” The Hindu has pointed out in its report.
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A report in March by Indiaspend mentioned the accomplishments of Anganwadis in Kerala and Tamil Nadu, lauding them for leading growth in the states. Anitha, head of a gram panchayat in Thiruvananthapuram said, “Many women in the villages apply for the position of Anganwadi workers. Some of these workers become so popular due to their connection with the community, that they are eventually elected as members of gram panchayat and as local leaders,” she said.
Sreenivasan has said he had only meant “rural children in Kerala did not have access to such enlightened mentoring.”
Anganwadis in Kerala have continued to work towards child and women development despite the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. The News Minute reported, that under the Koodeyundu Anganwadikal project, Anganwadi teachers have also been trained to take virtual sessions with pregnant women.
Image Credit: The News Minute
Tanvi Akhauri is an intern with SheThePeople.TV.