Reacting to media reports that he had said sex education in schools should be banned, Union health minister Harsh Vardhan clarified on Friday that he did not propose any such move.
Union health and family welfare minister, Harsh Vardhan, talking to Bihar health minister Ramdhani Singh at a press conference in Patna. (PTI photo)
Vardhan said he was not against the idea, but was opposed to the previous United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government's "so called sex education".
A controversy erupted after reports quoting Vardhan's "Educational Vision" for Delhi schools started doing the rounds.
"So-called "sex education" to be banned. Yoga to be made compulsory," Vardhan had mentioned on his website, spelling out his vision ahead of the 2013 assembly elections.
Clarifying his stand following the row, Vardhan said, "Crudity and graphic representation of culturally objectionable symbols as manifested in the UPA's so called sex education programme cannot be called sex education. Every education system must strive to have an ideal curriculum and to that extent my stand is valid."
He added, "Sex education that builds societies free of gender discrimination, teenage pregnancy, HIV-AIDS proliferation, pornography addiction etc. should be the goal."
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Vardhan, who is in the United States on an official visit, said his views were only in the context of the previous government's 2007 decision to introduce Adolescence Education Programme in its original form.
He also said as the chief ministerial candidate of his party in the 2013 elections, he had the full right to make transparent his agenda for education among other subjects of governance.
"I am a medical professional who has embraced rationalism and I whole-heartedly support pedagogy that is scientific and culturally acceptable," Vardhan, who had recently run into a controversy over his remarks on using condoms in preventing AIDS, said.
"Anything abrasive to common sensibilities and articulated as such by responsible persons should be discarded and replaced by consensually accepted learning processes," he added in a statement published on the website of the Press Information Bureau.
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But, Vardhan came under attack from several quarters. Anjali Gopalan, director of Naz India, an organisation working in the field of gender, homosexuality and sex education, told AFP, "These remarks are clearly not a good thing,"
Gopalan added, "It is a known fact that instances of teenage pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections come down in societies with sex education. I don't see open talk about sex education as promoting sex."
It was the second time in a week that Vardhan found himself at the centre of a controversy after he appeared to suggest efforts by anti-AIDS campaigners to promote condom use could encourage "illicit relations".
In case of the AIDS remark, Vardhan had criticised the media for misrepresenting his views and clarified that a combination of safe sex and using of condoms was what he suggested for preventing the disease.
(With inputs from Agencies)