A religious organization known in India as the Garbh Vigyan Sanskar Project has been pushing a program on would-be parents that it claims can create “uttam santati,” or custom babies. While many of the group’s core beliefs date back to ancient Hindu mysticism, critics accuse the group of verging on the ultra-nationalist side, seeking to create a stronger Indian nation – and Indian bloodline – through their controversial birthing program that makes some rather questionable claims.
Whatever their goal is, the program has recommendations that stray into the pseudoscientific. Many of the procedures outlined in the program involve the “purification of energy channels,” mantra-chanting, and just good ol’ proper nutrition. Ok, I can get behind that one. Eat your veggies, expecting moms. However, the group also instructs couples to arrange their copulation around planetary alignments in order to ensure the most auspicious astrological birth signs. Because, you know, nobody wants those wily Geminis or Scorpions or whatever in their houses. No word yet on healing crystals.
According to Dr. Hitesh Jani, adherence to these quasi-mystical tenets can “repair genes” and somehow change babies’ phenotypes:
The parents may have lower IQ, with a poor educational background, but their baby can be extremely bright. If the proper procedure is followed, babies of dark-skinned parents with lesser height can have fair complexion and grow taller.
Dr. Karishma Mohandas Narwani, an organizer with the project, told newspaper Indian Express that even reading certain texts and listening to specific music can lead to a “customized baby:”
IQ is developed during the sixth month of pregnancy. If the mother undergoes specific procedures, like what to eat, listen and read, the desired IQ can be achieved. Thus, we can get a desired, customized baby. Our target is to have thousands of such babies by 2020.
Despite some of the New Age woo-woo sounding claims made by the group, many of the practices are based on Ayurvedic medicine, an ancient school of knowledge dating back thousands of years and still practiced throughout the world, particularly India. Just because something is old, however, doesn’t mean it works. Most of the claims made by the group defy the conventions of Western science – but then again, so do many paranormal phenomena to which we dedicate our work on this site. Wanting UFOs to be real is one thing, but claiming that you can change your gene pool through nutrition is quite another.
Critics have also such as The Washington Post have pointed out that much of the language used by the Garbh Vigyan Sanskar Project is eerily reminiscent of Third Reich-era eugenics programs. But hey, plenty of people still drive Volkswagens and use Braun electric shavers and Krupp coffee makers. History is a circle, friends. All of this has happened before and will happen again.