Monthly Archives: May 2007

Human Inbreeding: What are the consequences?

“Inbreeding is breeding between close relatives, whether plant or animal” (1). Inbreeding can occur naturally in plants via self pollination. It is also carried out in animals by breeders to produce pure strains or to amplify a desirable trait. Inbreeding limits genetic diversity in addition to increasing the probability of inheriting any deleterious recessive genes from a parent or ancestral population. The level of inbreeding is determined by ‘inbreeding coefficient’ meaning that the closer the relatives are the higher the inbreeding coefficient is and thus riskier.

Inbreeding is not only limited to plants and animals. Inbreeding was practiced in western societies (before 19th and 20th centuries) and it is still common in some parts of the world. While Muslims of India, Middle-East, and Africa practice inbreeding for cultural and religious reasons, Amish, Mennomites and Hutterites may have practiced it because they were isolated. The high inbreeding coefficient in Dammam, Saudi Arabiais (0.0312) an be attributable to beliefs, traditions, and the desire to keep property within the family. The practice of endogymy in Hindus may arguably produce similar effects as inbreeding over long periods of time. Another reason responsible for persistence of inbreeding practices is socioeconomic status—the rich wanting to marry only the rich to maintain their status and thus looking in their own families for partners and poor only being able to afford a marriage among themselves. Interestingly, some royal societies have also been known to practice inbreeding to protect royal blood lines. For example, the English Royal family has had many hemophiliac members due to inbreeding. Inbreeding was common in Spanish Royal family as well. Historical events also promote inbreeding. After the United States devastated Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan, “there was an increase in the number of consanguineous marriages (first cousin level) in the areas surrounding Hiroshima and Nagasaki.”

While some propose that long-term practice of inbreeding can be beneficial to a population as harmful genes are elimination by selection, there have been ample studies suggesting that inbreeding poses threats to a population in a variety of ways such as reduced fertility and increased child mortality/morbidity. A study investigating the effects of inbreeding on the fertility of adult women demonstrated that deleterious recessive alleles received from inbreeding can lower the fertility rates of adult woman. Another study investigated five effects of inbreeding: fertility, mortality and morbidity of the offspring, reproductive performance of the offspring, and characteristics of the offspring. In thus study inbreeding did not have an adverse effect on the fertility of the marriages; however, results showed that inbreeding significantly increases childhood mortality in the first year of life, increases morbidity, and significantly increases numbers of disabled offspring. Moreover, development also seemed to be affected for “the children of consanguineous marriages were significantly older than the control group when they first walked and talked.” However, inbreeding seemed to be beneficial when examining some aspects of health. Offspring from the inbreeding group showed a 14.3% decrease in allergies and a 23.9% decrease in nephritis, a rare genetic disorder that causes inflammation of the kidneys. While these are a studies that investigate effects of human inbreeding, many more animal studies have demonstrated that inbreeding creates health problems. For example, all pure bred dogs have significantly higher and devastating medical conditions.

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Human inbreeding and cancer
How cancer is formed
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दलितले चलाए विद्यालय

February 18th, 2007

प्रकाश बराल

पर्वत, फागुन ५ – गाउ“मा विद्यालय नभएका कारण पढ्नबाट वञ्चित यहा“का दर्ुर्ुइ सय माझी र दलित बालबालिकाले पढ्न पाउने भएका छन् । पर्वतको पाङ गाविस मालढंुगाका माझी तथा अन्य दलित र मजदुरले आफ्नै सक्रियतामा गाउ“मा विद्यालयको स्थापना गरेपछि उनीहरूका बालबालिकाले विद्यालय जान पाउने भएका हुन् । 
नेपाल बिजुली, पेन्टर, प्लम्बर तथा निर्माण मजदुर युनियन -क्युपेक नेपाल) को अग्रसरतामा मजदुरले नै विद्यालय स्थापना गरेका हुन् । स्थानीय शेरबहादुर श्रेष्ठले तीन रोपनी जग्गादान गरेपछि उक्त विद्यालयको नामसमेत शेर भागिरथी प्रावि रहेको

छ । शुक्रबार व्यवस्थापिकाका सांसद अजर्ुर्ु्रसाद जोशीले विद्यालयको शिलान्यास गरेका थिए । शुक्रबार शिलान्यास गरिएको विद्यालय यसै शैक्षिक सत्रमा निर्माण गरिसक्ने र वैशाखबाटै पढाइ सञ्चालन गर्ने विद्यालय व्यस्थापन समितिका अध्यक्ष तिलक लुंगेलले बताए ।

विद्यालय निर्माणमा क्युपेक नेपालका बाग्लुङ, पर्वत र म्याग्दीको सहयोग रहने लुंगेलले बताए । ५ लाख रुपैया“को लागतमा निर्माण हुन लागेको उक्त विद्यालयको लागि जिफन्टले ६० हजार, जिविस पर्वत र बाग्लुङ तथा बाग्लुङ नगरपालिकासमेतले सहयोग गर्ने भएका छन् । जग्गादाता श्रेष्ठले भने आवश्यक परेमा विद्यालय निर्माणको कामसमेत आफंैले गर्नसक्ने बताएका छन् । ‘सबै गाउ“लेको सहभागिता हुने भए राम्रो भयो, नभए आफंैले व्यक्तिगत रूपमा पनि भवन बनाउन सहयोग गर्नेछु ।’

‘हाम्रा बालबालिका विद्यालय जानबाट वञ्चित भएपछि गाउ“मा विद्यालय निर्माण थालेका हौं,’ क्युपेक पर्वतका अध्यक्ष रामबहादुर नेपालीले भने- ‘सधंै गिटी ढुंगा कुटेर बा“चेका हाम्रा छोराछोरी अब विद्यालय जान पाउनेछन् । क्युपेकको अग्रसरतामा गाउ“मा विद्यालय खुलेपछि मजदुर र दलितमात्र बस्ने मालढुंगाका दर्ुर्ुइसय बालबालिकाले शिक्षा पाउने भएका हुन् । गाउ“मा डेढ दर्जन त सुकुम्बासी पनि छन् । स्थानीय भीमबहादुर माझीले भने- ‘उनीहरूका छोराछोरी अहिलेसम्म विद्यालय जान सकेका छैनन् ।’ ‘विद्यालय टाढा भएकाले चार छोराछोरी अहिलेसम्म पढाउन सकेको थिइन“,’ माझीले भने- ‘गाउ“मै विद्यालय बन्ने भया,े अब भने पढाउन पठाउनुपर्ला ।’ कालीगण्डकीको किनारमा बसेका माझी र अन्य दलितसमेतले नजिक विद्यालय नभएकाले अहिलेसम्म छोराछोरी पढाउन पाएका थिएनन् ।

पढ्न नै बाग्लुङ पुग्नुपर्ने र त्यहा“ पुग्न दैनिक १० रुपैया“ भाडा तिनर्ुर्ुर्े थियो । ‘यति धेरै पैसा तिर्न नसक्ने अवस्थाका माझी र अन्य दलितले आर्थिक अभावमै छोराछोरीलाई शिक्षा दिन नसकेका हुन्, अब केही सहयोग मिल्नेछ,’ निर्माण समितिका कोषाध्यक्ष अर्जून कुमार श्रेष्ठले भने ।

श्रोत: कान्तिपुर दैनिक[ 2007-02-17]

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The Half-Moon Files

By Sushma Joshi
published in Kantipur Online

I happened, by accident, to hear about ‘The Half-Moon Files.’ The
Berlinale, Berlin’s international film festival, is the biggest in
Europe after Cannes, and there were 250 films competing for attention.
But the woman who told me about it was certain I would be interested.
It was about the POW (Prisoner of War) camp in Berlin after WW 1 and
had interesting anthropological elements, she said. ‘It is about
Indians in the POW camp,’ she said. As soon as she said ‘Indians’, I
knew I had to watch it. It was the last day of the festival, but I had
no hesitation chucking my ticket to the Hongkong action movie and
heading to the Arsenal, a theatre located in the basement of the
Filmhause of Berlin.

The documentary was in German, which I do not speak or understand. But
it was probably the most interesting film I, as a Nepali, watched in
the entire festival. The reason was this– the film, an ostentious
‘ghost story’ in which filmmaker Philip Scheffener goes out to track
down the voices of prisoners-of- war imprisoned in a camp in Berlin
after WW1, features old archival sound files, a four minute film
footage, and a treasure trove of photography.

The filmmaker spends a great deal of time shooting the bureacrat at
the Indian Embassy and the difficulties he encounters trying to get a
shooting permit to India. This lavish attention to Indian bureacracy
seems to lead him astray. For what I saw on the screen were not
‘Indians’, but face after face with distinctive ‘Nepali’ features.

They had names like Dhanbahadur and surnames like Budathoki. They said
they were ‘Singhs’, but the accent–rough mountain voices with a
Nepali accent, gave them away as not the fieresome Tigers of the Sikh
Punjabi regiments but Gorkhalis who had descended from the hills to
make a living in the British regiments.

There was an old photograph of a court with men in Nepali topis. The
four minute footage, the only extanct one as far as I could tell,
features a Dashain ceremony in which men perform a vedic ceremony
before a goat is taken to be sacrificed. In the background,
there is a dance performed by dhami-jhankri. Anybody who has taken a
look at contemporary shamanistic cermonies in Nepal will instantly
recognize this cermony. This was not Dusshera, as the filmmaker
explained to me later, but Dashain–a very distinct form of
celebration with its own geographical and cultural connotations. The
causal disregard that most Indians hold for cultural distinctions
between Nepalis, who have a distinct national and geographical
reality, and Indians, was apparent in the way the researchers in India
had informed the filmmaker. The Sikhs stand around watching but there
is a little excited scamper as a group of Nepali men cluster around
the priests who perform the fire ceremony, just before the white goat
is brought to be sacrified.

The film also tracked the way scientists used the POW camp as a rich
treasure trove of ethnic groups to practise their first
anthropological and ethnological experiments on. They measured body
parts to figure out why the Germans were not as hardy as their
enemies. This was the beginnings of the scientific racism of Nazi
Germany which would manifest twenty years later, with tragic and
far-reaching consequences.

A german girl sitting next to me was kind enough to translate. The
film ends with a funny story–although the filmmaker has never been to
India, he appears in several news reports in India, ‘shooting in
Andhra Pradesh’ on this story. The filmmaker, it appeared, was open to
the humor of narratives, to the ways in which stories are made up and
in which reality is often constructed and open to interpretation. I
wondered how he would react if I told him his story was not complete.

The ghost may have been tracked, but he seems to have left some
important details out. Did he know that about fifty percent of the
people he shows as POWs are not Indians, but Nepalis? So I asked him
in the Q and A. Had his research assistant in India, by any chance,
not told him that the men were Nepalis, speaking Nepali?

The filmmaker, disappointingly, said that he had been aware of that
they were Gurkhas, speaking a mixture of Khas and Hindustani, but that
he had not felt it was important enough to distinguish between the
many different groups from India. This would have complicated the
story. I pointed out that Nepal was already a different nation state
in the 1700s, far ahead of the Indians, but this apparently was not
historically important to distinguish. It seemed incredible to me that
an European researcher at this day and age, working with serious
historical materials, would feel this was not pertinent, but
apparently such was the case. The filmmaker talked a great deal about
colonialism. I sat in the audience and thought of the irony of how the
Nepalese reality, once again, had become submerged into a larger
Indian one, but the critic of colonialism couldn’t fathom this
important distinction.

There were large segments of black footage during which one can hear
the voices talking. As I heard the Nepali voices from almost a hundred
years ago talking about how their King would recall them back to their
homeland from the terrors of Germany, I thought about how things
haven’t really changed. Nepal sends its men and women out to Malaysia,
Korea, Iraq and Jordan these days, instead of Germany. But the faces
and the voices are still the same, and the simple faith that their
country, no matter how impotent, will save them eventually is still
the same.

‘The Half-Moon Files’ moved me, not only because the voices from so
far ago talking about displacement and loss were never heard by their
countrymen, or understood by their captors, in their own time. It also
moved me because this remains the case to this day–that Nepalis, to
this day, remain an invisible group in the global conciousness.

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