The AYUSH Ministry of Narendra Modi government has a unique piece of advice for pregnant women of India. According to a booklet released by the ministry, pregnant women should abstain from sex, quit meat and should only have pure thoughts for healthy babies. Additionally, they have also been advised to read the life stories of great personalities.

The ‘advice’ featured in a booklet called ‘Mother and Child Care’ which was issued by govt funded Central Council for Research in Yoga and Naturopathy (CCRYN), and released by MoS (Independent Charge) for Ministry of Ayurveda, Yoga & Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy (AYUSH) Shripad Naik in the run-up to International Day for Yoga on June 21.

Among other bizarre suggestions, the booklet also advises woman to abstain from desire, anger, attachment, hatred and lust, keeping calm, to hang some good and beautiful pictures in room to have a healthy baby. and being with “good people in stable and peaceful conditions only”.

Dubbing the ministry’s advice as unscientific, senior gynaecologist and obstetrician with the Apollo Healthcare Group, Dr Malavika Sabharwal told Hindustan Times: ” Protein-deficiency malnutrition and anaemia are health concerns for pregnant women and meats are a great source of both protein and iron, which is better absorbed from animal sources than plant sources.”

Another doctor punched hole in the government’s assertion on no sex, saying if the pregnancy is normal, there is no need for abstinence as the baby in the womb is protected by the amniotic fluid and the uterus muscles. Formed in 2014, the Aayush ministry has been tasked to promote Yoga and traditional Indian medicines.

The ministry  was in the eye of storm last year after  it said in an RTI reply that it has no policy to hire Muslim candidates. “As per government policy: no Muslim candidate was invited, selected or sent abroad,” the reply was quoted as saying. However, later the ministry refuted the charge calling it a malicious attempt to malign it.