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Indian eugenists accepted as specimens not as scientists. The story of Indian eugenics #1

I was amusd to read: "Indian eugenists were rebuffed in attempts to join international community as scientists rather than as specimens". The racist sentiment is from the The Oxford Handbook of the History of Eugenics. It is amusing that once one starts looking at the other person's race then everything become race. Race is about prejudgement. There can't be perhaps a more amusing depiction of the consequence of this perspective!

Some notes from this Oxford Handbook:

Indians established many voluntary organisations to promote eugenics.

The Indian Eugenics Society was established in Lahore in 1921, the Sholapur Eugenics Education Society in 1929, the Eugenic Soecity of Bombay in 1930, and the Society for the Study and Promotion of Familiy Hygiene there as well in 1935.

The Madras Neo-Malthusian League was founded in 1928.

The (London based) Eugenics Society provided Indian Associations with reference works and general eugenics education materials. And in turn the Society journal, Eugenics Review, as well as Birth Control News, the London paper run by British birth control pioneer and eugenist Marie Stopes, ran regular news items sent from eugenics workers in India and elsewhere in the globe.

Unlike eugenists elsewhere, eugenists in India were unconcerned with understanding the specific workings of heredity.

Through caste, eugenic-racial theories found their most popular application in Hindu diatribes against Muslims. These outbursts framed Hindus as India's supposed "orginary" inhabitants, casting Muslims as an invading race. Sectarian authors regularly speculated as the reproductive efficiency (or profligate dangers) of one or other religoius community.

Pillay was the honorary medical director for the Sholapur Society in 1929 and in 1931 he opened a Eugenics Clinic in Bombay.In 1934 Pillay launched Marriage Hygiene, a journal devoted exclusively to eugenics; in 1935, along with other Bombay professionals, he formed the Society for the Study and Promotion of Family Hygiene. In 1938, this society held the first All-India Conference on Family Hygiene in Bombay in conjunction with the All-India Conference on Population. And in 1940 in Bombay, the society merged with the Bhangini Samaj who were running a famiy planning who were running a family planning clinic run under the auspices of the AIWC, to become the Family Planning Society.

In 1949 this society became the Family Planning Association of India (FPAI), founded by two women: Dhanvanthi Rama Rau (1893-1987) and Avabai Wadia (1913-2005) of the AIWC, with Pillay as the honorary medical advisor.

From 1952 the FPAI was allocated Indian government funds. Thus although family planning and population control were in the government of India's first Five Year Plan of 1952, it was a program pursued alongside substantial voluntary efforts. Also in 1952, the Indian government welcomed a Population control efforts created a new common-sense in (a smaller) ideal family size that cut across most groups, rich or poor. But it was the poor whose bodies bore the brunt of the state's attempts to reduce the aggregate rates of population growth.

Some Indian eugenists

A.P.Pillay (1980-1956)

Kartik Chandra Bose: Sex Hygiene, 1915

Pramatha N Bose: Survival of the Hindu Civilisation Part II: Physical Degeneration – Its Causes and Remedies (1921)

J. Krishnan: Sex Education and Chidren in India (1930)

S. Sundearesa Iyer: How to Evolve a White Race (Volume I) (1934)

M V Krishna Rao: Hindu Ideas of Health and Eugenics, 1942

M. V. Krishna Rao

Other notes

Indian Eugenics Association

The Indian Eugenics Association was started in 1916 at Madras Presidency College. [Source]

Eugenics Society of India

WHAT is probably the first attempt to co-ordinate the efforts of a number of scientists to propagate the principles of Human genetics and Racial hygiene in India and to direct this for the betterment of the Indian population with a view to enhancing its surviving capacity in the struggle for existence, has been made in Bengal by a handful of scientific men who have started a society under the name of Indian Eugenics Society. How one wishes this attempt was made in a calmer atmosphere and when the human mind was free to think in terms of survival and betterment! Bitterness, racial animosity and strife are by no means congenial conditions for the growth of this sapling and one cannot but feel that this attempt is a very faint cry in a vast wilderness, –a cry that will be heard by a few.

The first bulletin published by the Society has reached us. It is a small, attractively printed pamphlet with a foreword by the President of the Society, Dr. B. K. Chatterjee, who gives a brief history of the origin of the Society and puts forth a plea for the co-operation of scientists and workers all over India for the cause.

 The main article itself "The aims of objects of Eugenic researches in Bengal" is by the Secretary of the Society, Mr. S. S. Sarkar who has presented an admirable review of the Eugenic studies in that province. [Source]

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Sanjeev Sabhlok

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