More and more couples are exploiting Caesarean sections to manipulate the horoscope of the baby.
For those who believe in astrology — and don’t kid yourself, most of India does — the chance to choose your time of birth and consequently an extra lucky horoscope would be difficult to pass up. It’s almost the astrological equivalent of genetic engineering.
How does it happen? One of the rare few to talk about it, 75-year-old Bal Patil, an ex-member of Maharashtra State Minority Commission, recounts how he chose his grandson’s time of birth. “This happened around 18 years ago. When the doctor told my pregnant daughter that the delivery would have to be a C-section, he allowed us to decide a date. Since my brother and I are amateur astrologers, we calculated an auspicious time. I don’t know if it helped him, but I saw no harm in avoiding some negative influences in his birth chart.”
Reverse engineering a baby’s horoscope isn’t a new phenomenon, and it doesn’t even stop at that. With the ban on gender tests, astrologers are being flooded by requests to determine the sex of the child. And the malaise isn’t even restricted to India. “It’s catching on all over the world. We recently got an online query from a gentleman in Italy,” informs Raj Rao, who runs astrology portal astrolife.com. “He not only wanted to know an auspicious time for the caesarean section but also the gender of the child — the latter, we refused.”
“In fact, a lot of doctors practice astrology,” Rao adds. “One senior surgeon I know in Delhi’s Sir Ganga Ram Hospital regularly uses astrology to time surgeries and the success rate has been encouraging.” As for the hospital’s pecking order in the capital, Priyanka Gandhi gave birth to both her children there.
Says jewellery designer Queenie Dhody, “I don’t believe in astrology and there’s no reason on earth why people should tamper with the health and well being of a baby. But that’s not to say that it doesn’t happen all the time. People do play with the dates if they get the chance.”
In fact, most child specialists in Mumbai also admit that when it comes to elective caesareans, an increasing number of parents are consulting astrologers. “Astrology may be a science, but it should be used in the correct perspective. If it’s a planned procedure like tonsil surgery and the patient insists, I suppose we could oblige to appease them. But medical management of pregnancy according to astrology is definitely not to be encouraged,” says Dr Indu Khosla, one of Mumbai’s leading child specialists.
Another specialist, Dr Shabnam Husain, reveals a shocking case that largely went unreported some years ago: The man made his wife go through two abortions because the astrologer had told him that the time of conception was not right. In the third pregnancy, the man, who was an astrologer himself, insisted that the child be pulled out of the womb in the middle of the seventh month.
The hospital reluctantly agreed, but what followed was a tragedy. The premature child could not be saved and died within six hours and the father was so overcome with guilt that he committed suicide. The mother, whose whole world came crashing down, went into severe shock and was treated for psychosis. “I hope this case can become a deterrent and remind people how dangerous these things can be,” says Dr Husain.
Que Sera, Sera, so let nature decide. And that goes for genetic engineering too.