Women and children of India, take heart, you have a guardian angel in Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss. In his bid to “protect our women and children”, the minister has suggested that ‘men’ take their ‘maids’ permission to smoke at home. “Even at home, they (men) will have to seek the permission of their maids as they are their employees.”
Excuse us, while we choke. Women in India don’t smoke at all, in cities or in the villages? Ah, but then we are Indians, untainted by vice. Of course, encomiums are in order for Mr Ramadoss who has recently received the World Health Organisation’s award for his consistent firing of salvos to stop Indians from lighting up. His tobacco-free workplace rule will be enforced within a few months time. Making all workplaces in India smoke-free is all very well, but categorising the home as a workplace is pushing the envelope a bit too far. But the minister’s attitude is ‘put that in your pipe and smoke it.’
Surely, the caretaker of India’s collective lungs should be equally earnest about India’s collective mouths — a sizeable number of Indians, men, women, children and others are merrily chewing tobacco products, a major cause of oral cancer. There seems to be little that the minister is doing to curb this. But that is what will happen when you see only the smoking gun and not beyond the smokescreen.