'National shame'

India issues ‘irrational’ advice that warns expecting mothers to avoid ‘lustful thoughts’

(REUTERS/Mansi Thapliyal)

A booklet released last week by the Indian government instructs pregnant women to avoid meat, eggs and “impure thought” has prompted doctors to denounce the advice as absurd and dangerous. “The government is doling out unscientific and irrational advice, instead of ensuring that poor pregnant women get to eat a nutritious, high-protein diet,” said gynaecologist Arun Gadre, who works in rural areas of the country. The booklet, “Mother and Child Care,” is being distributed by the Central Council for Research in Yoga and Naturopathy, a government department that promotes traditional and alternative medicine.

It also advises pregnant women to look at pictures of beautiful babies and tells them to “detach themselves from desire, anger, attachment, hatred and lust.”

Shripad Naik, the traditional medicine minister, defended the advice as “wisdom accumulated over many centuries” and claimed it “puts together relevant facts culled out from clinical practice in the fields of yoga and naturopathy.” The advice is seen as another move from Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu-nationalist government to promote vegetarians (cows are considered sacred by Hindus), which Gadre called absurd. “This is a national shame. If the calories of expectant mothers are further reduced by asking them to shun meat and eggs, this situation will only worsen.” Gadre said, pointing out that malnourishment is a real threat for millions of Indian women. Malnourished women are prone to giving birth to underweight babies, which seriously impedes their healthy development.  A full 48 percent of all Indian children under the age of 5 are considered stunted, according to a 2015 report by Unicef. “This kind of advice is detrimental to women’s health,” said Amit Sengupta, a physician and health care activist with the Delhi Science Forum.

Read the full story at The Guardian.


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