Kerala: Mayor Arya Rajendran's Viral Work Photo with Infant Sparks Parenting Debate

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: In the bustling city of Thiruvananthapuram, Mayor Arya Rajendran has stirred up a fervent parenting debate by showcasing her dedication to work alongside her one-month-old daughter, Dua Dev. This viral image captures Mayor Arya Rajendran gracefully managing her official duties while cradling her precious infant.

The striking photograph, reminiscent of a European Member of Parliament who once brought her baby to the Parliament, has ignited a passionate discussion on social media platforms. Arya Rajendran and MLA Sachin Dev embraced parenthood with the birth of their daughter on August 10 at the SAT Hospital in Thiruvananthapuram. Their union in matrimony took place on September 4, 2022, in a grand ceremony at the AKG Hall, Thiruvananthapuram, attended by prominent figures such as Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, CPM State Secretary MV Govindan, Ministers Mohammad Riyas and V Sivankutty, along with other esteemed leaders.

Notably, Sachin Dev, originally from Nellikode, Kozhikode, secured victory in the Balussery constituency during his tenure as the State Secretary of SFI, earning him a position as a district committee member of CPM in Kozhikode. Arya Rajendran, on the other hand, assumed the role of mayor at the tender age of 21 while pursuing her studies at All Saints College, thus becoming the youngest mayor in the country.

This captivating image has spurred a thought-provoking discourse on gender roles within parenting. While some have commended Arya's unwavering commitment to resuming her responsibilities promptly after childbirth, others have raised pertinent questions about why parenting seems to predominantly fall within the mother's purview. The absence of Arya's husband, CPI(M) MLA Sachin Dev, in similar parenting roles has prompted inquiries.

Critics have questioned whether the photograph merely serves as a photo opportunity, potentially romanticizing motherhood to perpetuate patriarchal norms. Additionally, some social media users have expressed concerns about whether the Corporation provides adequate facilities for lactating mothers.

In defense of Arya, proponents on the left have cited examples of women leaders from around the world, including former New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who have successfully balanced their official duties with caring for their children. They argue that there is nothing inherently wrong with lactating mothers bringing their children along. However, it is pointed out that men who do the same often face social stigmatization.

Notably, neither Arya nor Sachin has shared the photograph or responded to the ensuing controversy. It's worth noting that Pathanamthitta collector Divya S Iyer faced similar criticism last year when she brought her toddler son to a public function. Divya clarified that the event was non-official in nature and took place on a day she typically dedicated to spending time with her son.

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