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Critics assail India's attempt to ‘validate’ folk remedy

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Science  03 Mar 2017:
Vol. 355, Issue 6328, pp. 898
DOI: 10.1126/science.355.6328.898

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Summary

According to Hindu tradition, Indian cows are not only sacred—they are the source of a cure-all for everything from schizophrenia and autism to diabetes and cancer. That elixir is panchagavya, a drink made of cow urine, dung, milk, yogurt, and clarified butter prescribed by practitioners of Ayurveda, or traditional Indian medicine, and spread on fields as well to boost crop yields. Now, India's science ministry is about to launch a program that aims to "validate" the efficacy of the millennia-old concoction. The program has influential backers. But some prominent researchers decry what they see as an attempt to add a veneer of legitimacy to unscientific claims. And others view the new program as the latest instance of a more insidious trend: an attempt by India's Hindu nationalist government to enlist the nation's science to support its worldview.

  • * in New Delhi