Monday, June 29, 2015

Holy cow! No eggs for you!

I come from a long line of people who were not all too healthy when young.  I will spare you details about my childhood ;)  Not because my people back then were poor and starving.  On the contrary, for generations, my people have always been among the economic and intellectual elites within their spheres of influence.

My father, for instance, had his own childhood health issues.  So much so that at one point the physicians they consulted told my grandmother to make sure her son ate eggs.  Asking a traditional Tamil Brahmin woman who lived in a village to serve eggs to her son is, for all purposes, like asking an observant Jew to eat bacon.  But, my grandmother did.  My father had eggs; even now he does.  The traditional man that my father is, he says he worries less about the life of the chicken now because these are unfertilized eggs anyway.

The doctor's advise was based on the scientific understanding of nutrition, about the protein in the eggs.
eggs — a superfood that is about 10 percent fat and extremely high in protein — are the most nutritional way to improve the children’s health, more so than a cup of milk or a banana
My traditional and orthodox grandmother who lived in a village was ok eighty years ago with her son eating eggs, almost always the fertilized ones at that, but the old country appears to be regressing in ways that even my grandmother would say "chee-chee":
Earlier this month, the chief minister of the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh, Shivraj Singh Chouhan, struck down a proposed pilot project to introduce eggs in free government nursery schools in districts populated by economically disadvantaged indigenous groups. The proposal came from the state’s own officials, but was dismissed by Mr. Chouhan on the grounds that eggs are a nonvegetarian food. Mr. Chouhan, like many Hindus, is a vegetarian and avoids eggs because they may be fertilized and are seen as a life force.
India's public policies are increasingly getting tied up in knots due to the political threads getting intertwined with fanatical Hindu interpretations.

How are things in Madhya Pradesh?
In Madhya Pradesh, many of the poor communities survive on government-subsidized grain and foraged plants. According to the last National Family Health Survey, indigenous children were the most malnourished of any community in the state. Even across the state, 52 percent of children under 6 — the age up to which they may attend government nurseries — are underweight, says the National Institute of Nutrition. Indeed Madhya Pradesh, the economist Jean Dr├Ęze told me, “is far worse than even the Indian average.” It is in the grip of a “nutritional emergency,” he said.
Yep, this is the latest version of let them eat cakes!
Another staple food was taken from the plates of the poor in the neighboring state of Maharashtra, after it banned the possession and sale of beef. It is enforceable with a prison term of up to five years. Hindus consider cows to be sacred, but Hindu nationalists, emboldened by the election of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, have lobbied aggressively on the issue, not out of concern for the animals — which are typically bone-thin and live on garbage — but to force their religious beliefs on non-Hindus. The ban, implemented in March, was a body blow to the poor. Beef, unlike mutton and chicken, is cheap. It is an important source of protein for low-caste Dalits, and for minority communities like Muslims and Christians.
At least eggs can be easily transported to where the demand is.  What will happen to the cows if their owners cannot sell them for the meat?
The Indian Express newspaper reports that farmers don’t know what to do with dying cattle. Since they can neither sell nor butcher them, they are letting the animals loose to fend for themselves. Surely, there is nothing sacred about starving cows.
Fend for themselves by eating plastic bags, I suppose!

So, where is India going?
Privileged politicians are imposing their will on underprivileged people, who do not share their beliefs and also do not have the luxury of rejecting cheap sources of protein. By injecting religion and caste into politics, the B.J.P. is preventing India from moving forward by reinforcing the prejudices that have kept it back.
Oh well, India's undernourished kids ought to be happy that got to do suryanamaskara on International Yoga Day, even if they are all mere skin and bones. :(

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