Nationalist Congress Party legislator Saroj Ahire made a sensation when she attended the Maharashtra Assembly session with her two-month-old baby in tow. Everybody, including the speaker, the chief minister and other members welcomed the presence of the baby in the House. Many of them would have recalled how the then New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern attended the Nelson Mandela Summit at the 73rd UN General Assembly in New York with her baby. Around that time, there was a little controversy about the district collector in Kerala, Divya S. Iyer, addressing a public function with her child in her hands. In all these cases, the general public was in support of the women because they realised that women have to find a balance between their commitment to their family and to the post or position they hold.
What the people heard on Monday was the same MLA complaining about the “fusty, musty and dusty” Hirkani room, where she had gone to breastfeed her baby. “There was dust everywhere. One can’t sit there with a baby. The dust could become a reason for illness,” she said. The speaker has ordered the room to be kept spick and span at all times. Given the fact that she is an MLA, one has reason to believe that she will not have any complaint the next time she visits the lactation room. However, what happened is a reflection of the state of hygiene in public childcare facilities. It is easy to construct a childcare room but difficult to keep it clean at all times. Of course, those at the airports are an exception. One of the reasons why India lags behind in tourism, despite its immense potential, is the lack of easily-accessible clean toilets. Let the MLA’s complaint stir the nation to tidy up all such facilities.
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