Monday, 4 April 2016

Eugenics

Photo: yumikrum

I am a bit of dogmatic in nature, that is I tend to be opinionated. In fact I have an opinion about everything! or at least I thought so till I stumbled upon few subjects which left me confused and unsure..to say the least. And that makes me uncomfortable. I hate not knowing how I feel.

All thanks to "Eugenics". Now before going forward I would like to forewarn that this is a very abstract concept which you would never affect your life or of little importance to any of our lives. So if you are looking for something light and cheery, you should just stop reading right now (no offense taken, I don't blame you)!

Eugenics is a philosophy which believes in improvement of human genetic traits through the promotion of higher rates of sexual reproduction for people with desired traits, or reduced rates of sexual reproduction and sterilization of people with less-desired or undesired traits, or both. It's basically manipulating the gene pool by selective breeding for better evolution of humankind.

The term "eugenics" was developed by Francis Galton in 1883, who was heavily influenced by his half-cousin Charles Darwin's theory of evolution, which sought to explain the development of plant and animal species, and desired to apply it to humans. What exactly eugenics includes has been often debatable but broadly speaking they can be classified into below categories

Negative Eugenics 

It involves discouraging reproduction by persons having genetic defects or presumed to have inheritable undesirable traits. Including reduction of unplanned pregnancies by sex education, promoting the use of contraceptives and encouraging abortion. But that's just the milder version, they have some harsh concepts like forced sterilization of "mentally retarded" or criminals.

Positive Eugenics 

It means encouraging reproduction by people with "desired" traits by giving financial incentives to have children, selective incentives for childbearing to immigration!

Now all this may sound insane and ridiculous theory but it was popular among lot of well known people including Winston Churchill, H.G Wells, Theodore Roosevelt, George Bernard Shaw, Hitler. Although some supporters of eugenics later reversed their positions on it. Because from the time it was conceived, it has remained controversial and for a good reason. To begin with, how do you determine "desirable" traits? It is often a cultural choice and highly subjective. And there is no surety over inheriting these qualities, a child could very well be different from parents. More importantly, it tainted the ethical nature of humankind.

So does that mean eugenics is dead in our modern times?

What does an average matrimony ad reads like? What do we look for while looking for a partner? No..eugenics is not dead. It has evolved into genetic engineering, egg donation, gene therapy, cloning and prenatal diagnosis of genetic disorders.

Some of these ideas of eugenics are so bold that they are outrageous and yet.. dangerously alluring in these testing times. It makes us question the very basis of life..is it inhuman to kill something before it's born ? and what if after coming to this world it only faces suffering and causes suffering to others? who is to decide? And aren't we already choosing in our own way "desired" qualities? Or is it our fate to alter the evolution to survive as a species?

I am glad that whatever be the case, the fate of mankind doesn't lie in my hands because it's a very preposterous predicament. But I really hope in future we evolve into better beings.. with or without eugenics.




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