The medical wing of India’s far-right Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) has created an "ayurvedic eugenics" program to produce ‘fair skinned, lovely children’ with a high IQ. Here are nine things to know about this unusual “customised baby” program:
1. The program promoting “uttam santato” or a 'perfect child' faced a social media backlash recently after a Hindu nationalist group revealed a plan to open up branches to promote the service in Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal.
2. The backlash is fresh — but the plan isn’t new. It's an ayurvedic program that was launched by some members of the RSS’ “Arogya Bharati” a decade ago and was adopted at the national level in 2015.
3. The project owners say they have already ensured delivery of 450 “customised babies”. Their aim? To have designed thousands of “customised” babies by 2020.
4. The program is a mix of Ayurvedic herbs, yoga, and seminars and aims to purify babies. "If that is taken care of, then the baby will have the desired mental, physical and spiritual quality," Karishma Mohandas Narwani, who leads the Garbh Vigyan Sanskar project said.
4. Some of the desired mental and physical qualities include a high IQ, fair skin and a tall stature. Arogya Bharati believes these qualities can be achieved by a process of “repairing genes.”
5. The RSS is one of the organisations that supported conservative Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's bid for power.
6. The program itself was inspired by a woman who led a “signature children” effort in Germany after World War II. The Nazi program was based on the same principals that Arogya Bharati adheres to.
7. The "designer baby" project is comprised of several steps. The male’s sperm and the female’s egg is 'purified' for 90 days before pregnancy and after the birth the baby is taken care of with the dietary and procedural regulations.
8. While the RSS claims that the program does “not intervene in the natural process,” critics have slammed the program for promoting racial discrimination.