The Indian government is advising pregnant women to avoid all meat, eggs and lusty thoughts.
Doctors say the advice is preposterous and even dangerous, considering India’s already-poor record with maternal health.
Women are often the last to eat or receive healthcare in traditionally patriarchal Indian households.
Malnutrition and anemia, or iron deficiency, are key factors behind India’s having one of the world’s highest rates of maternal mortality, with 174 of every 100,000 pregnancies resulting in the mother’s death in 2015.
That is better than five years earlier, when the maternal mortality rate was 205 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births, but still far worse than China’s 27 per 100,000 or the US’ 14 per 100,000, UN International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) said.
“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 gynecologist Arun Gadre, who is based in the western Indian city of Pune, but works in rural areas.
The government booklet, titled Mother and Child Care, smacks of religious dogma and ignores widely accepted medical evidence that pregnant women benefit from eating protein-rich meats and can safely engage in sex, doctors said.
It says pregnant women should also shun “impure thoughts” and look at pictures of beautiful babies to benefit the fetus.
“Pregnant women should detach themselves from desire, anger, attachment, hatred and lust,” reads the booklet, released last week by the Central Council for Research in Yoga and Naturopathy, a part of the Ministry of Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy (AYUSH) that promotes traditional and alternative medicine.
The minister of AYUSH defended the booklet as containing “wisdom accumulated over many centuries,” and said it did not advise specifically against sex, only against all thoughts of desire or lust.
“The booklet puts together relevant facts culled out from clinical practice in the fields of yoga and naturopathy,” Minister of AYUSH Shripad Naik said.
It is the latest push for vegetarianism by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu-nationalist government, which already advocates avoiding beef and strictly limits the transportation and slaughter of cows, which are considered sacred by Hindus.
However, the latest homily to pregnant women has outraged the medical community.
“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. “This is absurd advice to be giving to pregnant women in a country like India.”
About one-third of India’s 1.3 billion people struggle to live on less than US$2 a day. Many are lucky to eat more than one full meal a day and women often give their portions up to their hungry children or husbands.
Malnourished women are more likely to give birth to underweight babies, who then are in danger of being “stunted” or not growing to their full height and weight. A full 48 percent of all Indian children under the age of five are considered stunted, a 2015 report by UNICEF said.
“Undernourished girls grow into undernourished women. Married by their families while still in their teens, these girls become pregnant by the time they are 17 or 18, when their bodies have not matured enough to safely deliver a child,” said Amit Sengupta, a physician and healthcare activist with the Delhi Science Forum, a public advocacy organization.
He said the government’s advice to pregnant women betrayed “backward thinking” and hostility toward evidence-based science.
“This kind of advice is detrimental to women’s health,” he said.
India has moved additional troops along its northern border as it prepares for an extended conflict with China, after several rounds of talks failed to ease tensions between the nuclear-armed rivals. China has already placed about 5,000 soldiers and armored vehicles within its side of the disputed border in the Ladakh region, an Indian government official said, asking not to be identified, citing rules. India is adding a similar number of troops as well as artillery guns along the border to fend off the continuing incursions by the Chinese army, the official said. The standoff began on May 5, when troops clashed
CLOSELY TRACKED: A US officer said that the warplanes were watched as they flew from Russia by way of Iran and Syria to Libya and were photographed multiple times The US Africa Command flatly rejected Russian claims that Moscow did not deploy fighter jets to Libya, saying on Friday that the 14 aircraft flown in reflect Russia’s long-term goal to establish a foothold in the region that could threaten NATO allies. US Brigadier General Gregory Hadfield, deputy director of intelligence, said that the US tracked the MiG-29s and Su-24 fighter bombers flown in by Russian military, passing through Iran and Syria before landing at Libya’s al-Jufra air base. The base is the main forward airfield for Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar and his self-styled Libyan National Army, which has been waging an
Singapore’s otters, long adored by the city-state’s nature lovers, are popping up in unexpected places during the COVID-19 lockdown, but their antics have angered some and even sparked calls for a cull. With the streets empty, the creatures have been spotted hanging out by a shopping center, scampering through the lobby of a hospital and even feasting on pricey fish stolen from a pond. While many think of tiny Singapore as a densely populated concrete jungle, it is also relatively green for a busy Asian city, and has patches of rainforest, fairly clean waterways and abundant wildlife. There are estimated to be about
Indonesian officials are forcing people who break social distancing rules to recite Koran verses, stay in “haunted” houses and submit to public shaming on social media as the country battles to contain surging novel coronavirus infections. The Southeast Asian archipelago began deploying about 340,000 troops across two dozen cities to oversee enforcement of measures aimed at halting transmission of the disease, such as wearing masks in public. However, provincial leaders are buttressing these efforts with their own zealous campaigns to fight the coronavirus. Police in western Bengkulu Province have assembled a 40-person squad to find lockdown scofflaws and force them to wear