Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Tuesday said the Karnataka High Court's judgement backing a ban on wearing of hijabs in educational institutions should be welcomed by everybody. In an address at an event, Singh said no country or society can develop if it does not respect women.
"I can say very confidently that there cannot be development of a society or a country if there is no respect for women. India's approach towards women has traditionally been positive and progressive," he said. "Today you have seen that the Karnataka High Court has given a judgement. I think everybody should welcome it," he said.
Singh was speaking at the event organised by the FICCI Ladies Organisation (FLO). The defence minister said the dress code of schools and colleges must be followed by everyone of every religion.
Referring to the judgement, he said the court held that India's daughters may be from any religion or region, but no restriction on them is acceptable. "If there is a 'dress code' of a school and college, then anyone from irrespective of religion and faith should follow the dress code. And the court has given its judgement corresponding to this," Singh said.
The defence minister also said that the government has taken a number of steps to strengthen the role of women in the armed forces. "The armed forces will see a larger participation of women in the coming years due to the recent steps taken by the government," he said. "Today, women are not only working in the Army in every wing, but now we are also giving permanent commission to them. Today, admission is being given to boys as well as girls in every Sainik School. The doors of NDA (National Defence Academy) have also been opened for women," he said. Singh said that about 200,000 women took the entrance exam last year for entry into the NDA with great enthusiasm. "The percentage of women in the Indian Army will increase significantly in the coming times," said Singh.
The defence minister also highlighted a number of schemes rolled out by the government in the last few years on skill development, employment generation and entrepreneurship. He said these schemes have paved the way for the holistic development of women and given them the confidence to forge a new identity. Singh made special mention of 23-year-old Vinita Singh who left a salary package of Rs one crore and launched her own startup, which has now become a Rs 300 crore company. He said this inspiring story has been made possible due to the policy brought out by the government to promote startups in the country. "In 2014, only 500 startups were working in the country. count has crossed 60,000," he added.
Singh reiterated the government's commitment to promoting women entrepreneurship in India, saying that according to a study, if obstacles in the way of women are removed, at least 1.5 crore new businesses can be started, creating about 6.4 crore additional jobs, according to a defence ministry statement. He added that this ecosystem of women entrepreneurship will inspire more women and new businesses will emerge.
At the event, rich tributes were paid to Bharat Ratna Late Lata Mangeshkar. Singh remembered the Nightingale of India, saying that she will always be alive in the heart of every Indian. FLO president Ujjwala Singhania and other members of the organisation were also present.