Gujarat girls malnourished as they are scared of getting fat: Narendra Modi

FP

Chief Minister Narendra Modi has blamed the high level of malnutrition in Gujarat on the predominantly vegetarian diet in the state and the "middle-class" being "more beauty conscious than health conscious".

In an interview to The Wall Street Journal, replying to a question on what he was doing to check malnutrition, Modi has been quoted as saying: "Gujarat is by and large a vegetarian state. And secondly, Gujarat is also a middle-class state. The middle-class is more beauty conscious than health conscious — that is a challenge. If a mother tells her daughter to have milk, they'll have a fight. She'll tell her mother, 'I won't drink milk. I'll get fat'."

Admitting the need for a "drastic change" to tackle the malnutrition problem, Modi said: "Gujarat is going to come up as a model in this also. I can't make any big claims, because I don't have a survey in front of me yet."

Various statistics have highlighted dismal malnutrition levels in Gujarat, particularly among the tribals and its rural and female population.

On the 2002 riots, Modi reiterated his oft-quoted stand — that he should be punished if found guilty. "One only has to ask for forgiveness if one is guilty of a crime. If you think it's such a big crime, why should the culprit be forgiven? Just because Modi is a chief minister, why should he be forgiven? I think Modi should get the biggest punishment possible if he is guilty. And the world should know there isn't any tolerance for these kind of political leaders," he said.

Asked if he sees himself as a "future prime minister", Modi is quoted as saying: "I don't carry the burden of the past or the madness of the future. I live in the present. My present is my Gujarat... I can't think beyond that."

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