Newly-appointed Uttarakhand Chief Minister Tirath Singh Rawat on Tuesday claimed that women who wore ripped jeans would set a bad example for children.
Rawat recounted a conversation with a woman while speaking at a workshop organised by the Commission for Protection of Child Rights in Dehradun. The chief minister said he met the woman, who was travelling with two children, on an airplane. “She was sitting next to me so I spoke to her,” Rawat said, according to a video tweeted by ANI. “She was wearing gum boots and her jeans were torn at the knees.”
“She told me that she runs a non-governmental organisation,” he said. “She runs an NGO, her knees are visible, she moves around in the society and kids are with her. What values will she give [to the children]?”
Rawat said that kids learn values at home, and emulate adults. “What we do, our kids follow,” he said, according to The Times of India. “A child who is taught the right culture at home, no matter how modern he becomes, will never fail in life.”
Rawat claimed that a bad example was being set for children at home. “Kyanchi se sanskaar [culture by scissors] – showing bare knees, wearing ripped denim and looking like rich kids...these are the values being given now,” he said, according to The Times of India. “Where is this coming from, if not at home? What is the fault of teachers or schools? Where am I taking my son, showing his knees and in tattered jeans? Girls are no less, showing their knees.”
The Uttarakhand chief minister claimed that this was happening in a “mad race” for westernisation. “The western world follows us, doing yoga, covering their body properly,” Rawat was quoted as saying by the newspaper. “And we run towards nudity.”
Meanwhile, Uttarakhand minister Ganesh Joshi added to the controversy by claiming that women should focus on their families, NDTV reported. “Women talk about all things they want to do in life, but the most important thing for them is to look after their family and children,” he was quoted as saying by the news channel.
The Uttarakhand chief minister’s remark was criticised on social media. “Message to society: Ripped Jeans are cool and trendy,” journalist Aditya Raj Kaul tweeted. “CM [Rawat] should try himself! If this is the logic given for substance abuse, then god bless those in rehabilitation. Wearing Kurta Pyjama may cure substance abuse.”
Suspended Congress leader Sanjay Jha asked the Bharatiya Janata Party whether it supported Rawat’s opinion. “Wearing ripped jeans destroys our culture, it seems,” Jha tweeted. “It leads to substance abuse. And a societal breakdown. Women should strictly avoid this sacrilege against our pristine customs, says Uttarakhand CM. Dear BJP, this is your CM Tirath Singh Rawat: Do you endorse this?”
Jha added: “A society getting ripped on divisive politics is fine. But ripped jeans destroys our great culture. Kya baat hai! [great].”