Modi: Gujarat malnutrition a middle-class phenomenon
"Gujarat is 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 have a fight. She'll tell her mother, 'I won't drink milk. I'll get fat'," Narendra Modi said. Malnutriton, a middle class phenomenon: Modidelhi Updated: Aug 30, 2012 16:27 IST
Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi sees not just Gujarat's high-profile growth but, ironically, even its malnutrition as a sign of prosperity.
In an interview to the Wall Street Journal, Modi offered this explanation on why malnutrition level in the state - otherwise seen as an economic powerhouse - was persistently high.
"Gujarat is …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 have a fight. She'll tell her mother, 'I won't drink milk. I'll get fat'."
He then added: "We'll try to get a drastic change in this. Gujarat is going to come up as a model in this also."
Narendra Modi gave another reason too: Gujarat's vegetarianism.
This candid claim about malnutrition being a middle-class phenomenon came amid other familiar claims: that Gujarat is the engine of growth; that it shone as a "flicker of light" when there were massive power blackouts in July.
He even made it clear that to pick up from negligible growth was easy - many may see this as a veiled barb at Nitish Kumar's Bihar - but to sustain high growth was difficult. "Going from 1% or 2% growth to 10% isn't difficult. What is difficult is to sustain 10%."
Modi brushed aside a question whether he saw himself as a future PM, saying he didn't carry the burden of the "madness of future".
He also reiterated that he wasn't guilty of wrongdoing in the 2002 Gujarat riots. He added that if he was, he should be punished rather than just being asked to seek forgiveness.
"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," Modi said. "….The world should know there isn't any tolerance for these kinds of political leaders."