And the credit for the first Bill in India to use feminine pronouns goes to… Kerala Health Minister Veena George

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BySouth First Desk

Published Mar 29, 2023 | 9:08 PMUpdatedApr 03, 2023 | 10:19 PM

Medical negligence in Kerala

When the state Assembly, on 21 March, passed the Kerala Public Health Bill of 2023 it marked a significant milestone in more ways than one. For one, the Bill aimed to consolidate and unify the existing laws relating to public health in the state and is expected to be a game changer once it becomes law.

Interestingly, the Bill also becomes the first in the country to use feminine pronouns. According to Health Minister Veena George, to date, the laws that are in effect in the country all use male pronouns like “he” to include “she”.

But in this Bill, feminine pronouns were used to mean other genders.

For example, instead of using “udyogasthan” (which means a male officer in Malayalam), which has been used in various acts to mean female officers too, the Kerala Public Health Bill 2023 used “udyogastha” (the feminine form of udyogasthan).

Similarly, “udamastha”, the feminine Malayalam word for owner, and “rogamuktha”, feminine for one who is cured of disease, is used in the Bill. Earlier, both these were referred using male pronouns “udamasthan” and “rogamukthan”.

Assuming some heated discussions had taken place in the state Assembly’s Select Committee, which had finalised the draft of the bill, over using the feminine words, South First reached out to some members to learn how an agreement was arrived at on the matter.

We were pleasantly surprised to learn there was not much discussion on the subject and all the members of the committee were on the same page. Our source was also quick to give credit for the initiative to Health Minister Veena George.

An Opposition member, however, contended that creating a social media buzz about using female pronouns was nothing but a ploy by the government to divert attention from the fact that the Bill was passed without a debate in the House as the ruling party abruptly adjourned it sine die.

The Opposition, we figure, is duty-bound to oppose!