Rajiv Gandhi University of Health Sciences’ Ayurveda Question Paper Objectifies Women, Faces Backlash

The Rajiv Gandhi University of Health Sciences (RGUHS) in Karnataka has come under fire for allegedly using derogatory language towards women in a recent exam question paper. In the Kayachikitsa paper for the fourth year BAMS exam, held on June 15, students were asked to write an essay on “Stree as a Vajikarana Dravya” or woman as an aphrodisiac item.

The controversial question soon received flak online for being misogynistic and problematic. Posting the question paper online, a Twitter user highlighted excerpts of BAMS textbooks where women have been referred to as “aphrodisiac items” and “baby-making factories.”

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Following the controversy, RGUHS said that the question paper was prepared based on the syllabus approved by the government. “These are things taught in the textbook and are one of the methods of treatment. The university has no authority over adding or removing the contents of the textbook as it was set by the Central Council for Indian Medicine,” Ramakrishna Reddy, Registrar (Evaluation) of RGUHS, was quoted as saying by a leading news daily.

Last year, a CBSE Class 10 English question paper had drawn uproar for being extremely misogynist. The controversial passage of women’s independence for being the main reason for a variety of “social and family problems”. It stated that “wives stopped obeying their husbands” and that was the main reason for children and servants becoming indisciplined. The passage further said that bringing the man down “from his pedestal the wife and mother deprived herself, in fact, of the means of discipline.”

The question paper asked students to comment on the tone of the passage with one of the options being “Writer is a male chauvinist pig”.

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Following the uproar, the controversial passage was dropped from the paper by CBSE for “not being in accordance with guidelines of the board with regard to the setting of question papers” The board announced full marks for passage number 1 of all question papers to ensure uniformity in the awarding of marks.

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