Thursday, February 26, 2009

Enrich the gene pool

This is dangerous territory.

First, because I am no sociologist or biologist. So, what I type out is pure conjecture.

Second, in today's India, anything goes in the name of jingoism. With low tolerance at rock bottom for any idea that is remotely anti-Indian-culture, there is a danger of this post being labelled anti-India. And then there are instances of bloggers being sent notices to withdraw entries and being sued for libel (which actually goes to show that blogs are becoming more and more powerful.)

But here goes nevertheless ...

A rich gene pool comes only when in a given territory the best mate. In the non-human animal world "best" is generally defined as the fittest that is likely to survive. In lions this is taken to an extreme. The victorious lion kills lion cubs sired by the defeated lion. On death of her cubs the lioness becomes receptive again and this ensures that the gene pool is enriched by the strongest lion's gene. Cruel it might seem but terribly effective.

This works in the plant world too. Take fruit bearing trees. Only the trees that survive to flower get pollinated.

A biologist may be able to able to give numerous examples supporting the above facts.

Now let us turn to human beings. (I am now stepping into domain that I have no deep knowledge of). Humans have postponed death. Marvels of medical science ensures that both the strong and the weak reach maturity. Raw existence in nature would ensure the survival of the fittest. But "fittest" among human is no longer means the strongest. Among humans, it is perhaps no longer the survival of the fittest individual. Rather it is the survival of the strongest group. And this means the entire humanity, in a way. (The marvels of medical science is accessible, more or less, to all humans). Survival of the fittest group is found among non-humans also. Like Chimpanzees. But such groups have an Alpha male. Mating rights in non-human groups reside with the Alpha male. With humans mating right resides with all.

Fortunately among humans, in many societies the female has the right to decide. (Before, I go ahead, please note that among non-human animals too the female decides. And she generally chooses to mate with the strongest). In such societies hopefully the female will make a choice based on what could only be defined as "attractiveness factor". The female will choose the best as she sees it fit. So although the human gene pool is not composed of only the "fittest", this choice by the female of the human species may result in a hopefully evolved progeny. (I have simplified the things a bit here. But this is what happens, more or less.) Note that all progeny will be super-humans. Only that the chances of an evolved beings (by a tiny bit; for evolution progresses in series of tiny mutations).

A question comes to mind immediately. Are the fruits of modern medical science actually hindering evolution? A not-so-satisfactory response could be: Relax! Genetic engineering is the solution. (Genetic engineering is not as 'non-natural' as it seems. After all natural selection put evolved brain in early humans in the first place. So the logic goes as follows: Natural Selection => Human Brain => Genetic Engineering => Evolution).

To go forward with my thesis (:-)) we will assume selection by human females works wonderfully.

We finally come to India and other such countries where female does not choose her mate. Before, I hear howl of protest from the ladies who are reading this blog, I hasten to add that even today in India a majority of marriages are arranged by family. Some choose. But the majority don't.

The idea behind arranged marriage is obvious: that the best gene pool resides in good families. And so since ages there are arranged marriages in India. Whether the assumption of good family = good genes holds good, I do not know? But seems to me that by depriving the Indian female of their choice of selecting their husband - for generations - may have left the Indian gene pool a little depleted. Arranged marriages may actually be a benign form of selective (but unnatural) breeding.

So the solution to a future-is-bright India may actually lie in liberating Indian female from the clutches of arranged marriage. No?

Now, if some social scientist (is that an oxymoron?) comes forward and refutes my arguments by reeling of data, it would be great. As I type this I wonder if the Industrial Revolution in England and Renaissance in Europe started when arranged marriages (yes, Europe too had arranged marriages for a very long time) gave way to marriage by choice.

Picture courtesy: Sri Vatsa

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1 comment:

sm said...

nice post,
wanted to add something if you read ancient hindu - sanatana dharma, females got the right to choose husband, but in later stages females lost all rights and they didnt realise it also, for centuries , eg is our education goddess is female,but female were not allow to study now they studying is different part.
i wanted to add more thing not only females but if u see u will find mejority places for boys family chosses the boy has to do what his parents say and has to marry with that girl.

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