The Kerala State Women’s Commission (KSWC) on Friday registered a case against actor Sreenivasan on the charge of having made public comments allegedly demeaning to Anganwadi teachers.
KSWC member Shahida Kamal told The Hindu that she had registered a case and opened an enquiry against Mr Sreenivasan based on a petition filed by a set of Anganwadi teachers.
She said the petitioners had felt that Mr Sreenivasan’s purported comment that rural children deserved better than ill-educated women to introduce them to the world of learning was gender insensitive and misogynist on the face of it.
The petitioners said Mr Sreenivasan’s alleged comments had hurt them. The remarks had gone viral on social media and cast Anganwadi teachers in poor light, the complainants alleged.
As per the Anganwadi Recruitment Notice 2020, women with ten or 12th standard pass or diploma from a recognised university were eligible to apply for the post of teachers in the rural child care centres. According to the website of the Social Justice Department, there are 33,115 Anganwadis in Kerala and 60,000 caretakers.
Ms Kamal said the Commission would soon issue a summons to Mr Sreenivasan.
When contacted, Mr Sreenivasan said that he had not meant to be insensitive to women or Anganwadi teachers.
He had said at a literary festival organised by a publishing house that the best minds initiated children in Japan and other developed nations to the universe of learning. Kindergarten teachers were among the most qualified educators in such advanced societies.
In contrast, rural children in Kerala did not have access to such enlightened mentoring. The actor said he had not seen the social media version of his speech. It was likely that anonymous persons could have distorted his words or quoted him out of context.
Mr Sreenivasan also said he was not aware of the case against him and hoped to defend himself against the accusation. Chinthavishtayaya Shyamala (1998), a movie directed by Mr Sreenivasan, had won the National Film Award for Best Film on Other Social Issues.