Sunday, February 20, 2011


There are many things from the West that are good which have been copied or emulated hook, line and sinker by almost every other nation in the world. You just name it from jeans and food to education and political philosophy. I myself have been quite Western in my outlook up to the way I communicate and dress till today. Yes, the West has taught us many things. But of late, I have some issues that have necessitated a rethink.

Take food for instance. My forefathers from South India have been cooking with coconut oil ever since the dawn of civilization. They are still doing it. The West told us that coconut oil is bad for our health and that it is loaded with bad cholesterol. Corn oil was a recommended alternative and I switched to Mazola corn oil for my family way back in the 1970’s itself. Today my children abhor food cooked with coconut oil. Little did I realize then that it was perhaps a ploy to market American corn worldwide as corn is the largest U.S. crop, in terms of both volume and value. Today everyone realizes that the health benefits of coconut oil include hair care, skin care, stress relief, maintaining cholesterol levels, weight loss, increased immunity, proper digestion and metabolism, relief from kidney problems, heart diseases, high blood pressure, diabetes, HIV and cancer, dental care, and bone strength. These benefits of coconut oil can be attributed to the presence of lauric acid, capric acid and caprylic acid, and its properties such as antimicrobial, antioxidant, anti fungal, antibacterial, soothing, etc.

The first rice cooker was invented during the 1940's, by a Japanese company known as Mitsubishi Electric. This has affected all of us and we use them without any thought daily today. It has also killed the traditional Indian way of cooking rice in my family. In my younger days, my family cooked rice the Indian way by boiling it in water and when the rice was sufficiently cooked the remaining starchy water is drained off which could then be fed to cows with some powdered copra added. Copra is the dried meat, or kernel, of the coconut; the name is from the Malayalam kopra. So now we eat rice without the starch disposed off, and that is okay to most people. Starch is converted to sugar and gives energy for us which, if not used in our sedentary lifestyles, is converted into fat and stored in our pot bellies. Any wonder many Malaysians are simply overweight??

The next issue is smoking thanks to Sir Walter Raleigh. According to Dr. Steven Gay from the University of Michigan, puffing away on cigarettes and cigars causes up to half a million American deaths each year from smoking-related diseases. My question is what about other forms of more potent air pollution – toxic gas emissions from internal combustion engines, jets, factories, industrial wastes, nuclear waste dumping, mosquito coils and sprays, pesticide sprays etc etc. The whole of earth’s atmosphere up to even the ozone layer is polluted by us and why pick on smoking alone. The reason is to distract people from the other forms of rampant air and water pollution that the more industrialized nations are guilty of.

If we put 100 people in a closed poorly ventilated room with a small motorcycle engine running, the people will be dead within a few minutes. Hitler did this cheap and easy. On the other hand, if we put 100 smokers in a similar room with one non-smoker, he/she will probably cough a lot but will not die. That is my point. My forefathers smoked beedi and Malays smoked rokok daun. Every culture had their form of smoking. So smokers today have to tolerate - all forms of air pollution caused by motorists, cyclists, jets, air conditioners and what not but only smokers picked on."

In any case, let’s live and let live. Let’s tolerate each other and all our human idiosyncrasies from food, social habits, religion, politics etc. I just cannot accommodate a holier than thou attitudes. Even smokers, HIV carriers/patients and drug addicts have rights.......all also derived from western values of human rights of course. Older cultures had always been more tolerant in such things. I rest my case.

No comments: