The infamous 'red ant chutney', which once made it to celebrity chef Gordon Ramsey's menu, has once again triggered a debate in India over a most unlikely subject -- whether it can be considered a cure of the raging coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic outbreak or not.
Why is the new debate, which finds its inception in Odisha, making the news headlines in a country where both the government and pharmaceutical companies have promised medically-proven COVID-19 vaccines in the near future?
It's because of a new directive issued by the Odisha High Court, which has brought the spotlight back on the infamous 'cuisine'.
The court on Thursday asked the Union Ministry of AYUSH and the Director-General of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) to take a decision within three months on the proposal to use this 'red ant chutney' in the treatment of COVID-19.
According to a report by the Times of India (TOI), the Odisha High Court issued the directive on a PIL, filed by an engineer, that sought the court's intervention against alleged inaction on a proposal to research more into the efficacy of using red ant chutney in treating COVID-19.
For the uninitiated, the red ant chutney is consumed by tribals in many states, including Odisha and Chhattisgarh, as a local remedy against cold, shortness of breathe, fatigue, and other diseases. It is made by mixing red ant and green chillies.
In his petition, the Baipada-based engineer, Nayadhar Padhial, said that this 'chutney' has several medicinal properties, including potential immunity-boosting features.
Padial had sent his proposal to the CSIR on June 23 and to the Union Ministry of AYUSH on July 7. The plea states that this chutney has several "anti-bacterial properties" that may help fight any infection in the digestive system. The chutney is also rich in protein, calcium, and zinc that help to increase immunity, the plea said.
The Odisha High Court, without contending the merits of the case, asked the Union Ministry of AYUSH and the CSIR to take a call on the matter within three months and pass an appropriate order for the same.