Newly-appointed health minister of Bihar, Mangal Pandey of the BJP, sounded like a man who does his homework when he was asked by a reporter why do employees of Patna’s premier autonomous health facility, the Indira Gandhi Institute of Medical Sciences (IGIMS), have to declare whether they are virgin or not. 

He said, “I have looked up the dictionary, virgin means unmarried, there is nothing objectionable about that”. 

You might laugh your guts out at the statement, but Mr Pandey’s claim cannot be dismissed so easily. 

We looked up the word virgin in the online version of Oxford Dictionary, because that’s the easiest thing to do, and this is what we found. 

According to the Oxford Dictionary, the archaic meaning of the word virgin is a young unmarried woman. 

Though the primary meaning of the word according to the Oxford dictionary is a person who has never had sexual intercourse, Mr Pandey chose to focus on the archaic meaning of the word. 

Since we were already logged into the Oxford Dictionary site, we decided to look up the meaning of the word archaic. 

Here is a sentence with the word archaic in it. 

Hospitals in Bihar are run on archaic methods”. 

When HT posed the same question to the institute’s medical superintendent, Dr Manish Mandal, he replied, “In Devanagari (Hindi language), unmarried girls are referred to as ‘kunwari kanya’. The word virgin for it is a case of poor translation. The right word should have been unmarried.”