Thursday, February 02, 2006

Hilsa and other musings of the idle mind

Regular readers of the BBC may be familiar with this.

In a study carried out at Avon, it was observed that mothers with greater intake of Omega 3 fatty acids had children with more IQ. In what form did they consume this fatty acid? Oily fish!

What are oily fish? Wikipedia says that oily fish are those that have oil throughout their fillet and body cavity and not just the liver. Like a scientist you will ask, 'Give me examples, Samu!'. Oily fishes include salmon, mackerel and hold your bread.......HILSA and KATLA - the last two of which are consumed so heaviliy by the residents of Bongaland.

One wonders - is this the reason for the intellectual dominance of the Bongaland people over other less hilsa/katla loving people? Are the others doomed to wander in intellectual wilderness then?

But the tides are turning.

Recent reports indicate that the beloved hilsa is getting endangered due to pollution and heavy fishing. Will this lead to the intellectual decline of Shonar Bangla? On a more sinister note, is this a deliberate ploy on the part of the government/foreign agencies/Al-Qaeda/aliens-from-outer-space to reduce our average IQ by hitting where it matters the most?

We wait and watch.

Next: Is there a link between coconut oil fatty acids and Mallu wise cracking?

(The picture is from here.)


Anonymous said...

"is this the reason for the intellectual dominance of the Bongaland people over other less hilsa/katla loving people?"

But how does it scale between the people of Bongland and Bangladesh ? Afterall, Hilsa from Padma is supposed to be of a superior quality. Does the author have a crosscorrleation plot regarding that ?

" Will this lead to the intellectual decline of Shonar Bangla"

Well, looking at what has been happenning in last 15 years this is all I have got to say for Bongland :

Glorious past, Dark present and a Doomed Future. However, Even a dead elephant costs 1 lakh rupees ( old saying )
Not that the rest of the country is doing any better.

Amit said...

All these are just statistical ovservations. So bongali bondhu need not worry about it.

kray said...

I'm rather less concerned abt the state of avg IQ in WB/Bangladesh, but hilsa (or Iilish as I'd prefer to call it) an endangered species?!! NOOOO :(( that's like the one fish I really like!!

samudrika said...

I did not know that Hilsa from Padma is supposed to be better. But the question is does it have more omega 3 fatty acids? Then again, how will the average IQ be affected if mothers are given the Padma hilsa versus other hilsa? Shall we write a grant proposal? ;)

Thank you for putting it in perspective.

I love hilsa too. But I try not to eat it. I try to educate others around me also (that it is an endangered species) but you try telling two bong guys who are seeing their first hilsa in months not to eat it!

Anonymous said...

@samudrika :
Yes, the Hilsa from Padma is believed to be of a superior quality and perhaps it is required to characterise what factors make it superior ( like water of river, more omega fatty acids in the fish etc ). Then as you pointed out its effect on IQ of mothers. The study carried out by Avon looks incomplete, so a larger proposal would be very nice and is welcome.

But where should we ask for funds ? A new research dept. may be opened at Bongobondhu Institute of Pisciculture, preferable location near the confluence of Ganges and Padma rivers where there is healthy supply of the fish from both waters.

" telling two bong guys who are seeing their first hilsa in months not to eat it! "

I like Hilsa too, in fact you already made me hungry and sad at same time. ( Hilsa is quite out of my reach at this moment )

samudrika said...

I guess it must be really sad to be away from home. Dont worry it is all for the good in the long term.
But aren't there some hilsa substites available abroad? At least I read that in some Jhumpa Lahiri story. Maybe she was wrong.

Anonymous said...

"I guess it must be really sad to be away from home "

yeh, at least as far as mouth-watering mustard Hilsa is concerned. Some other things can still be brushed aside.

Substitute of Hilsa !!!! How on earth can you think of that ? Jokes apart : there are quite a few good mediterranean fishes around, but nothing close to Hilsa.
If Jhumpa lahiri says so, she definitely is not a Hilsa fan.

Hmmn, never gave a thought whether these fishes have higher omega fatty acids or not.

kray said...

"you try telling two bong guys who are seeing their first hilsa in months not to eat it!"

I'm bong! And when I get back home after whatever months wallowing in whatever seas, you try telling me not to eat hilsa! And from fairly reliable sources (read local fishermen) I've never got the slightest hint that they are dying out or nething...

And no, there absolutely cannot exist a hilsa substitute! Trust me, I've had enuf kinds of fish from all over the place :D.

musafir said...


"Trust me, I've had enuf kinds of fish from all over the place :D "

Ditto !!!! I completey trust you from my experience in this matter.

@samudrika and other bloggers
a while ago I was anonymous, now I am a musafir, wonder where I am going, but I feel one should take responsibility for what one says.

samudrika said...

The first time I heard that Hilsa was endangered was in the papers and then recently there was that article in the Times of India which I have linked to in my post. I am surprised that fishermen dont have anything to say about it.

@musafir(formerly anon)
Good to see that you are now no longer Anon. Nice name for a blog -Cosmic Vision. Look forward to your first post!

musafir said...

"Look forward to your first post!"

Who knows when that will happen, currently under tremendous workload ( nothing unusual about it in HEIs ) and trying very hard to make my finger-keyboard combination as fast as possible to finish a draft for a paper

Phew !!! If only everything could have been done with a Jadustick.

musafir said...

Finally I have got going with my blog. Have a look when you are fed up with all of your surroundings.

oook said...

Slight tangent, but back in the 80s, these two scientists (one was Michael Crawford, can't remember the other) wrote a book called "The Driving Force" where they made a case for human evolution being driven by the availability of fatty acids in the foods they ate. For instance, the ones in fish as well as the ones produced by angiosperms.

Basically, the brain has a high proportion of these fatty acids (as compared to other parts of the body and other animals) therefore, they said that only once the plants started producing these oils and/or humans started eating fish did it drive the evolution of human intelligence.

Oh, this fish thing could also be support for the idea of humans evolving in a semi-aquatic habitat.

Interesting, no? :)

Ok, I'll stop being a geek for now...

samudrika said...

Glad to see you here after a long time.
an article where he blames reduced oily fish consumption for reduced IQ back in 2000! This study just confirmed his hypothesis I guess. Oily fish also have other health benefits.