New Delhi, Feb 14: Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore on Friday became a part of the controversy after he was quoted as saying that women in media would be better off pursuing off-field roles like that of news analysis as opposed to field reporting in view of safety, challenging conditions and odd hours of work.
An IANS report said, "In contrast to the "reducing importance" of factual news business practiced by TV journalism, Rathore called for women scribes to take to print that is more about "analysis of the implication of the news".
In print, "your (women journalists) role could be far better utilized without going out in the field. Not that you should not go out. In the sense of safety and security, the working hours, conditions, and different roles attached as a mother, sister, or a wife," Rathore told women journalists in a media interaction at Indian Women's Press Corps as per an IANS report.
Reportedly, he later also clarified that his suggestion was not meant to project gender bias and was quoted as saying, "Sports, battlefields, Maoist-infested areas become issues for women journalists to be present there."
As this report did rounds on social media, Rathore was criticised by the people on Twitter after which the Information and Broadcasting Minister took it to micro blogging website and said, "I've the highest respect for women personally & professionally. My 6 month pregnant soldier wife was on battlefield after Parl attack. (sic)"
I've the highest respect for women personally & professionally. My 6 month pregnant soldier wife was on battlefield after parliament attack— Rajyavardhan Rathore (@Ra_THORe) February 14, 2015
Every one who knows me or has met my family knows that I stand for women at par with men. My wife is an ex soldier who has served in field— Rajyavardhan Rathore (@Ra_THORe) February 14, 2015
In another tweet he said, "Wrong interpretation. My wife is an ex-soldier." In others, he protested, "False, false, false. Totally false, Shame."
Meanwhile an India Today tweet on this entire episode said, "We stand corrected, Mr @Ra_THORe. It was an agency story. We have taken it off. Apologies for the mix-up."
We stand corrected, Mr @Ra_THORe. It was an agency story. We have taken it off. Apologies for the mix-up.— India Today (@IndiaToday) February 14, 2015
At the same event, Rathore also described controversial remarks by fringe elements within the Sangh Parivar as "not the majority opinion" and said a response to them from the prime minister would be akin to ascribing them undue importance.
Addressing the media Rathore said the government was mindful of the fringe elements as their actions "seem to reflect on us" (the Bharatiya Janata Party-led central government).
However, he deemed it unfit to expect statements from the prime minister because it would mean giving them undue importance.
"Every time, a fringe element speaks anywhere, (the expectation that) the response to that should come from the prime minster is giving it too much of importance. The government with so many ministries is telling that this is our path, if one among them takes a wrong step, please make a hue and cry then.
"They (hate speeches by fringe elements) are not the majority opinions. The government is taking steps to curb it," said Rathore.
(With inputs from agencies)