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(By Simha)

“The aim of Eugenics is to prove that the breed of our citizens is a matter of vital importance when considering the future welfare of our country”. So writes Major Leonard Darwin in his recent book on “What is Eugenics”. Just as we improve the breed of domestic animals we should pay attention to the breed of descendents. The statesman ruling the destinies of a country should learn wisdom from the farmer in his stockyard.

There are two sets of influence that bring about the difference between any two men. One set is inherited, another is acquired. The human being is developed out of a minute germ and since no two germs are alike, no two human beings resemble each other. The differences found innate in the germs are said to be inherited. The germs meet with different surroundings as they develop and their qualities are modified by the influence of these surroundings. Such modifications brought about these surroundings are said to be acquired.

Let us first take the latter. Training, education, wealth, housing, culture, recreation and other social contacts are admitted to be of great importance in the formation of the human qualities. If the well-to-do have big families and the poor small ones, the breed of the nation would be raised and there would be less pauperism, less discontent, less political animosity and more even distribution of wealth. Social reformers, therefore, ought to co-operate in the promotion of reforms aiming at these results.

One point, however, needs to be stressed regarding these acquired differences that are due to the reaction of our surroundings. Scientists have clearly established that the inheritance of these acquired characters is significantly small.” The descendents of the blacksmiths will be no stronger and the descendents of the criminal no worse than the descendents of their brothers whose muscles and morals had not been thus exceptionally affected”. We have therefore to conclude that modification of our environment though vital to the interests of mankind do not directly lead to any improvement in the breed of the race.

We shall next consider the qualities that are really inherited. We cannot stop a man having red hair or blue eyes if at birth that is his fate. Many bodily qualities are similarly inherited. Regarding mental qualities also inheritance seems to have great influence. The natural quality of the parent tend to be reproduced in the offspring. Hence parents with bad natural qualities ought not to be permitted to bring forth children. Attempts should be made to get rid of these undesirable types.

But the difficult questions arise as to how to get rid of these inferior stocks. There are two ways, persuasion and compulsion, the former being more desirable course to adopt. The deformed ought to be asked not to marry. Doctors should be consulted when persons contemplating marriage have insanity, epilepsy, consumption, etc. running in their families. A knowledge of methods of birth control should be diffused and every couple ought to have the facilities for preventing child birth if they so decide. The virtues of continence ought to be more widely advertised. Neither of these methods is injurious to health. Compulsion is justified in cases where persuasion fails because there is a paramount need to preserve the nation from deterioration. Sterilisation is advisable in such cases. In the case of males vasectomy can be performed under local anesthetics. Salpingectomy, the operation on females is a more serious affair. But in both operations the character and the life of the patient are not affected except that they cannot bear children even though they may sexually unite. Sterilisation differs from other methods of birth control in that there is no going back on sterilisation. Sterilisation is objected to as an interference with the liberty of the individual. If we consider the welfare of posterity this objection will not have much force. But even this objection will not have application if the operation is performed after obtaining the consent of the party. As to the feeble in mind, the consent of parents or guardians ought to suffice. In the state of California in the United States, the method of sterilisation has been very successful.

Eugenics depends for its success on not merely the elimination of the unfit but also on the increase in the number of the good stock. Financial aid ought to be rendered to parents capable of bringing forth and rearing good citizens. The Family allowances ought to be worked as a system of insurance against the expenses of parenthood. In regard to income tax to be paid by parents, a deduction may be made on account of children. In the public services, the senior men may be paid less salaries and the junior more so as to tempt younger members to rear bigger families. Scholarships at the colleges and Universities may be extended so as to lighten the burden of parents who at present bear the entire expenditure of educating the children.

Exercise of care in the choice made in marriage benefits the nation. But if we make young people more particular, the better types may be discouraged from marrying while the inferior may multiply indefinitely. We should steer clear of this danger and allow young people ample opportunities of meeting their equals of the other sex. Before marriage each party should obtain a medical certificate declaring freedom from disease, and each party should also certify that he or she had never been mentally defective and had not been convicted of crimes. Severe punishment should be enforced for false statements in such certificates. Active propaganda should be undertaken to arouse the moral sentiments of the people in favour of Eugenic measures to better the breed of humanity. Members of bad stock ought to be made to rise to the moral fervour enabling them to sacrifice some of their domestic joys for the sake of posterity. Similarly the well-to-do should be made willing to sacrifice personal comforts to supply their recruits to the coming generation.


- Revolt, 12 December 1928

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