How exactly does the Ayurvedic 100% male child fit into the govt’s agenda to improve sex ratio?

Banyan branches lentils and curd Sure shot way to conceive a boy according to this textbook
news Gender Monday, May 08, 2017 - 19:36

In 2014, the Modi government set up the Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha, and Homoeopathy (AYUSH) Ministry for “development of Education and Research in Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy”. Apparently, this includes information about how to conceive a boy as well.

According to Alka Dhupkar’s report in Mumbai Mirror, a third year textbook for Bachelor of Ayurveda, Medicine, and Surgery (BAMS) says that you can grind two north facing branches from a Banyan tree grown in a stable, two seeds of urad dalmustard (black lentils), mix the ground ingredients with curd and consume it to have a male child.

And this is merely one of the ‘remedies’ described to conceive a boy in a book which reportedly draws from Charak Samhita, an ancient Ayurveda text. Another (rather expensive) one involves the woman having to melt a gold, silver or iron mini idol of a man in a furnace, pour the melted metal into milk, curd or water and consume it at an auspicious hour.

The syllabus is under the supervision of Maharashtra University of Health Sciences, whose Vice Chancellor said that he had already written to the Ministry of AYUSH, which decides the BAMS curriculum.

It is ironic this textbook prescribes this ‘remedy’ to support son preference while the government is trying to bring up the dismal child sex ratio in the country, with campaigns like ‘Beti bachao, beti padhao’.

How exactly does the Ayurvedic 100% male child fit into this campaign?

And arguments aside, do these ‘techniques’ and ‘concoctions’ even work? According to Dr N Vijayakumar, HOD and medical superintendent at Government Ayurveda College Hospital for Women and Children, Trivandrum, there’s no scientific evidence.

“It is very difficult to ascertain whether these work or not. There is no scientific study or research to prove so. The reason they are in the books is for studying historical perspectives - how people tried to determine Ayurvedic medicines when there was no systematic technology,” he says.

“There are however Ayurvedic medicines to ensure good prenatal health, for prevention of miscarriage as well as to improve fertility. But there is no way scientific way to ensure that you conceive a boy through Ayurvedic medicine,” he adds.

Dr Vijayakumar also points out that under the Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (PCPNDT) Act, people do not come to them demanding to have a male child as sex selection is illegal. Dr Dhanya Radhakrishnan, Vice Principal at the Kerala Ayurveda Academy says the same thing, “People usually come to us during or after pregnancy regarding health concerns for the woman. There’s no way to say that the methods described in Charak Samhita to have a boy child work,” she says.

It is clear that these Ayurveda experts do not believe that it is possible to have a child of a pre-decided particular sex using any kind of medication. But this hasn’t stopped people from claiming the contrary in the past. In 2015 for instance, Yoga guru Baba Ramdev’s Divya Pharmacy had started marketing an Ayurvedic medicine called ‘Putrajeevak beej’ which created a controversy for promoting son preference.

Baba Ramdev had attempted to rubbish the allegations saying that the medicine itself was called ‘Putrajeevak’ and helped with infertility in women. However, the website ramdevmedicines.com also said, “According to ancient texts, it is also helpful in conceiving a male child,” when describing the medicine.

More recently, the RSS’s health wing Arogya Bharati claimed that its project ‘Garbh Vigyan Sanskar’ had unlocked the secrets to have a “customized child.” According to Ashutosh Bhardwaj’s report in Indian Express, athree month “purification”, sex at a time when the planets align auspiciously, abstinence after conception, and dietary restrictions would ensure “fair and tall” babies with higher IQ.

Dr Vijayakumar says that while some studies towards ‘customized’ babies have been conducted abroad, there is very little scientific evidence to make the results completely authentic. “99% of the child’s cranial development happens in the initial antenatal period. There are some foods which can boost that. But the brain’s capability also depends on ancestry,” he says.

He also warns that regardless of their effectiveness, fraudulent persons can use these techniques to con those who aren’t aware and are looking to have a male child, or a child with certain attributes. Instances of quacks offering 'medicine' to induce conception of a boy child have been reported to have detrimental effects on women's health. Many times, they are found linking it to Ayurveda to hoodwink people.

Also read: This class 12 book written by Sharmaji believes 36-24-36 is the best figure for women

Show us some love and support our journalism by becoming a TNM Member - Click here.