ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Veggie Myths

The myth of India being a largely vegetarian country is shattered by the fact that across the country, the great majority of people consume meat and fish.

Indian practitioners of ayurveda, including yoga gurus like Baba Ramdev, urge vegetarianism upon their patients and followers. India’s vegetarian Prime Minister, who observes the Navaratra fast each year, has appointed a minister for Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathic medicine in a country where, in the last 30 years, the state has steadfastly withdrawn support to the public health system in favour of private and expensive super-specialty hospitals and “health tourism.”

The political economy of globalisation and the culture of promoting “affordable” medicine are fused together in the times of cultural nationalism. The conflation of ayurveda and vegetarianism reinforces the non-violent self-image of Hindus and magnifies the “vegetarian-yoga” spiritual image of the country abroad. This is necessary for Hindu nationalism but does not square up with the historical and contemporary realities of Indian life.

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