Prof. M. Abdul Salam, Vice-Chancellor, University of Calicut
Members of the Syndicate, University of Calicut

The University of Calicut has recently announced the institution of a
‘Golden Mother Award,’ with the stated objective of highlighting “the
contribution of mothers to societal development and nation building
and to provide exemplary models to youngsters.” Mothers in the age
group of 50+ and who are actively contributing to their domains of
service will be considered for awards in eighteen categories such as
Art, Literature, Teaching, Social work, Politics, Administration,
Media, Sports, Agriculture, Entrepreneurship, Engineering, Medicine,
Research, Law and judiciary, Police and Banking, Nominations from
educational institutions, trade unions, LSGIs, NGOs and other
organizations or from individuals themselves are to be submitted to
the Director, Centre for Women’s Studies at the University.

Firstly, this attempt to glorify motherhood is blatantly patriarchal,
anti-woman, anti-democratic and a move that pulls society back to the
mores of a traditional morality. It implies that a woman’s place is at
home and that her principal responsibility (and hers alone) is giving
birth to children and rearing them. It pays little heed to
contemporary feminist critiques of motherhood as not primarily a
biological destiny, one that is made problematic by conditions of
poverty, deprivation and societal violence. In ignoring new forms of
motherhood and parentage such as adoption, single mothers, and so on,
it also upholds elitist, casteist, and patriarchal conceptions of
family and womanhood.

Secondly, the award is contrary to the true aspirations of
Universities and institutions of higher education. Universities should
be engaged in the production and dissemination of knowledge, the
enlightened critique of prevailing structures of discrimination and
tyranny, and the creation of futuristic values of democracy and
equality. Its business is not the affirmation of conventional value
systems or the reproduction of situations of inequity through dubious
means such as awards and other populist measures.

Thirdly, in associating it with the Centre for Women’s Studies at the
University, the award has become a travesty of the very purposes and
rationale of the Women’s Studies paradigm in India. It runs completely
contrary to the avowed objectives of Women’s Studies such as the
development of an interdisciplinary theoretical framework and a
perspective to transform other disciplines from feminist perspectives,
the formation of planning strategies that account for women’s
particular role in the formulation of policy in establishing a just
and secular society in India, the creation of scholars and activists
to make more visible the issues of women from dalit, tribal,
labouring, and minority religious communities, and the empowerment of
women in Panchayati Raj Institutions and public institutions including
universities and colleges ( see ‘UGC Guidelines for Development of
Women’s Studies in Indian Universities and Colleges,’ p. 5).

We understand that strenuous objections to the award have already been
raised by the students and teachers of the University, as well as by
the wider academic community in the State. In this context, we urge
the Vice-Chancellor and the University to desist from going ahead with
the Golden Mother Award and withdraw it.


1. G.Arunima, Centre for Women’s Studies, Social Sciences, Jawaharlal
Nehru University, New Delhi
2. Kum Kum Roy, Centre for Historical Studies, Social Sciences,
Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi
3. Janaki Nair, Centre for Historical Studies, Social Sciences,
Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi
4. Mary E John, Centre for Women’s Development Studies, New Delhi
5. Anu Aneja, School of Gender and Development Studies, IGNOU, New Delhi
6. M.S. Sreerekha, S. N. Centre for Women’s Studies, Jamia Millia
Islamia, New Delhi
7. Meera Velayudhan, Centre for Environment and Social Concerns,
Ahmedabad, Gujarat
8. Veena Poonacha, Research Centre for Women’s Studies, SNDT University Mumbai
9. Kavita Krishnan, All India Progressive Women’s Association
10. Trupti Shah, Sahiyar (Sthree Sangathan), Vadodara
11. Kiran Shaheen, Women for Water Democracy
12. Medhavinee, Vacha Resource Centre for Women and Girls
13. Madhu Mehra, Partners for Law in Development
14. Tejaswini Niranjana, Centre for the Study of Culture and Society
15. Juhi Jain
16. Runu Chakraborty
17. Lata Singh
18. Kavita Panjabi
19. Meena Seshu, SANGRAM, Sangli
20. Rohini Hensman
21. Anita Ghai, Department of Psychology, Jesus and Mary College, New Delhi
22. Padma Venkataraman (Mangai), Chennai
23. Ayesha Kidwai, Language, Literature & Cultural Studies, Jawaharlal
Nehru University, New Delhi
24. Chhaya Datar
25. Amrita Nandy
26. Saumya Uma
27. Soma K.P.
28. Neha Dixit
29. Sadhna Arya
30. Brinda Bose, University of Delhi
31. Shilpa Phadke
32. Vasanth Kannabiran, Asmita Resource Center for Women, Hyderabad
33. Rachna Johri, School of Human Studies, Ambedkar University, Delhi
34. Kochurani Abraham,
35. Janaki Abraham, University of Delhi
36. Preeti Mehra
37. Nimisha Desai, Olakh, Vadodara
38. J. Devika, Centre for Development Studies, Trivandrum
39. Rukmini Sen, Ambedkar University, New Delhi
40. Sundari Ravindran,
41. Asha.G.
42. A.K. Ramakrishnan, International Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru
University, New Delhi
43. Manisha Gupte, Pune
44. Niyati.R.Krishna, Research Scholar, Dept of HSSIIT, Roorkee
45. Sagari Ramdas, Anthra Hyderabad
46. Abha Bhaiya, Jagori Grameen Himachal Pradesh
47. Farah Naqvi, New Delhi
48. Chayanika Shah, Labia, A Queer Feminist LBT Collective
49. Kalyani Menon-Sen, Feminist Learning Partnerships
50. Rajashri Dasgupta, Journalist
51. Geetha Nambisan, Delhi
52. Soumya Vinayan, Council for Social Development Hyderabad
53. Virginia Saldanha

54. Susie Tharu

55. Uma Bhrugabanda, English and Foreign Languages University Hyderabad
56. Penkoottu, Kozhikode

57. Kamayani Bali  Mahabal, Feminist and Human rights activist, Mumbai