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 Drèze 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. :(


Ramesh said...

Oh please. Every society imposes dietary restrictions and considers people who are outside the boundaries as "unacceptable". In no Muslim country can you get or eat pork. In your own country, you cannot eat dog meat - remember the furore you created during the Seoul Olympics of 1988 on this issue. Your countrymen wanted Korea to close all dog meat restaurants during the period of the Olympics or else threatened boycott. Both kosher and halal requirements of slaughter are crueller than letting cows on the road.

Every society considers its dietary practices as superior and every other as inferior. India is no exception. Your arguments
strikes no chord with me

Ramesh said...

I believe, after the fashion of the day, I should have used terms like jiggery pokery, pure applesauce (??), gobbledygook, California does not count, ask the nearest hippie, etc etc in my comment.

Sriram Khé said...

Nope. We disagree.

Let's see if my points here will help you change the way you think about this.

1. If Saudi Arabia doesn't allow pork in the country, well, the anti-pork rule has always been there and it worked for them. A comparison to the content of the post would be if Saudi Arabia were to introduce a rule now that mutton is banned.
2. True, not only Americans but most of the world thinks that eating dog meat is weird and should be banned. (I have a couple of posts in the blog that are even tagged dog meat, and I question the idea of saying eating one animal is ok and another animal is not ok:
BTW, within China, even Chinese have started protesting against dog meat consumption.
3. South Korea could have said "fuck you" to anybody who questioned their eating traditions. They sold themselves out. It is South Korea's problem.
4. The post was not at all about animal cruelty. It was a post strictly about the political developments in India, not with any outsider's value systems, but looking at it from India's own traditions.
5. For centuries, significant numbers in India have been beef eaters. To now ban beef is mere politics that target those with the beef eating traditions.
6. I notice you conveniently bypassed what the good chunk of the post was about: the banning of distribution of eggs to undernourished poor school kids. I assume that was because you had no defense to offer?

Anne in Salem said...

A little education is requested. Let's leave animal ethics aside for the moment. Eggs are products of chickens. The chicken is not harmed in laying an egg and lives to produce many more eggs. Milk, yogurt and cheese are products of cows. The cows are not harmed in being milked and live to produce hundreds of gallons more milk. Why are eggs considered non-veg but milk, yogurt and cheese are not?

I didn't think Hindus were required to be vegetarians, just that most are either from tradition or from a desire to prevent harm to animals. Am I wrong?

Relative to the politics of it all, I find it appalling that any government can dictate what its citizens can and cannot eat. Actually, I find a government dictating anything I do to be appalling, but that is for another day.

It would be more helpful of these government officials of they offered an alternative . . .

Sriram Khé said...

Anne, when you write "A little education is requested" I assume you are referring to the need for Ramesh to get educated? muahahahahaha ;)

Until recently, eggs were almost always the fertilized ones, which meant that consuming eggs was practically killing lives. In Sanskrit, a bird is referred to as "twice-born"--dvija--because of how it is first born as an egg and then it is born from that egg. (BTW, a brahmin is also referred to as a twice-born. But that is a post for some other time.) Now, we have unfertilized eggs from which no chicken can come out and, thus, there is no "killing" involved. So, the historical avoidance of eating eggs is consistent with not eating meat.

In the case of the poor children whose nutrition is what the government programs were supposedly addressing--I am sure you agree that government intervention here is for the good--eggs are simply awesome both for the content and as inexpensive options. It is sheer madness for the government to block eggs for the undernourished kids. A recent madness thanks to the Hindu fanatics who are now in power.

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