Womenlines takes pleasure to welcome Prof K. K. Varma, author of ‘Life and Times of Unborn Kamla’, which is an intriguing book addressing issues of diminishing girls due to female feticide and infanticide in India. The book is certainly a must-read as it can make people introspect to find some solution and attract the attention of right authorities and associations who can put collective efforts to solve this problem. Please visit the links mentioned below to place your order for the book. In the interview read and listen to Prof Varma why he was so much moved to write a book on such a crucial topic-
Beginning his career with a teaching stint at IIT Kharagpur, Professor K. K. Varma has spent long years in social sectors. His professional expertise relates to Social and Policy research; Gender Issues and women’s empowerment, Reproductive & Sexual Health; Project development and management.
Professor Varma has handled various responsibilities in different capacities; working with Government of India, UN agency, a few international organizations. He is currently associated with women-children centric NGO- Aarohan– based in Delhi. Besides, he has been associated, from time to time, with many esteemed Apex institutions in India like CII, ASSOCHAM; and academic institutions such as Amity University, IIFT; to name a few.
1) Please share about yourself and about the interesting book which you have written.
Well. I have been working in the social sector on women and children issues for more than thirty-five years. I have been an Alumnus and member of faculty (IIT-Kharagpur, India); having worked with an academic institution, Private Company, the government of India, national and international charities and the United Nations.
Presently I am working as a Consultant/ Technical Advisor to Aarohan–NGO based in Delhi. Also, receive invites to deliver lectures in plenary sessions at conferences. I am also an Author. The book is based on my long professional experience in the development sector on women and children’s issues.
2) Why did you choose to write on this topic? Any particular reason for it?
Human sufferings have always hurt me deeply even when I have not been in any position to do anything to alleviate it. Growing up as a development professional -the issue of human rights violations touched me deeply-often shaking my conscience and emotions. Such feelings increasingly got imbibed over the long years of working in social and developmental sectors particularly on women-centric issues.
What has been most unfortunate, reports about the low status of women in Indian society, gender-based differentiation; atrocities and crimes, physical and sexual assault; and unabashed practice of aborting female fetus has kept appearing in various media from time to time with religious regularity… but these have simply failed to evoke any desired response from appropriate quarters.
The first-hand exposure to such social maladies could be made possible during my visit (as part of official responsibilities) to community projects (donor-funded) across the length and breadth of the country. Meeting, interacting with project communities mainly women opened a sort of Pandora Box!
Strangulating female fetus –an act of denying someone the intrinsic right “to be born” not only defy all limits of barbarism, human sensitivity and civility…but also inflicts deep wounds – a permanent scar on a woman’s mind- could be known only while working in outreach with the community during which I was confronted with its resultant repercussions and deeper scars.
Such exposure shook me no end! One basic question which troubled me and also most of us, I presume: “How can anyone deny the basic human rights to the newborn?” How can fathers implanting the seed of a child into the woman’s womb kill if the fetus germinating in his wife’s womb is female?
Seen in this context, the book may be considered as an expression of mental anguish, a strong resolve to voice concerns, raise the issue in public domain, little realizing that the book may/is possibly is the very first comprehensive documentation on the problem of vanishing girls consequent to female feticide!
3) Who is Kamla (the protagonist of the book) and how she impacted you?
Well “Kamla” is a symbolic name! It symbolizes Girl! This name is most common across all socio-economic strata of the society- ranging from one living in rural India to urban slums, to late Smt. Kamla Naidu, as is the case of female fetus abortions!
4) For any problem, there has to be a solution. According to you, what solutions can you suggest for this big problem?
To my mind, two aspects are critical and must be taken up with all the seriousness.
These are- introducing a comprehensive course on India’s civilizations, culture, ethics and moral education at the primary level of schooling so that there are everlasting impressions on the impressionable mind of the children who grow up into adults with right values and balanced, unprejudiced mindset; and a strong programmatic approach which lays adequate emphasis on “converting perceived liabilities into lucrative economic assets!”
5) Which is your favourite book and any plans to write a new book in the coming future?
Well, you may laugh, but there are quite a few books among my favourites; such as “Tiger’s Tale” (by Late Mansoor Ali Khan of Pataudi, the former Captain of India Cricket Team); 20 Minutes at Entebbe ( on the famous incident of rescuing passengers aboard Israeli Airlines from Entebbe airport, Uganda); presently “ Romancing with Life”(an autobiography of Late Mr Dev Anand, the Indian film star).
I am planning a book on Transgender!
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