Do you eat meat? Then you are obviously a liar, a thief and a sex offender. I’m a carnivore myself so I’m also a liar, a thief and a sex offender, or at least I an according to a new textbook issued to eleven-year olds in India.
This little text of moral homilies was apparently intended to offer guidance on a variety of issues, from health and hygiene to sex education and exercise. The page on non-vegetarians is especially revealing. These are people who “easily cheat, tell lies, they forget promises, they are dishonest and tell bad words, steal, fight and turn to violence and commit sex crimes.”
So, the meaties have all the fun then, while the vegetarians just, well, vegetate! The Japanese are praised for their vegetarianism. Rather strange this, given the history of Japanese ‘vegetarianism’ in the previous century. Oh, wait a minute: that must have been caused by all the fish they consume.
The advice on marriage is also just a little peculiar. Girls are told that they should find a husband between the ages of eighteen and twenty-five. “To get married without a bad name is the dream of every young girl.” Hmm, I’m now twenty-six and not married. Do I have a bad name, I wonder?
The contents of this enlightened work were reported recently by NDTV, one of India’s news channels. In responding the chief of the country’s Central Board for Secondary Education said that books were chosen by individual schools and not monitored for content. Rather an oversight, one would have thought.
India, of course, is a culture with a strong bias towards vegetarianism, with taboos against eating beef in particular. But as the economy grows things are changing. More and more people are eating meat. According to the United Nation’s Food and Agricultural Organisation the Indian per capita consumption of meat was running at over twelve pounds a year, the highest since records began. So, the country can expect to see more liars, thieves and sex offenders; it can expect to see more people like me.