Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Gandhi - The Good Boatman

I am SHE. When Manja offered to take my contributions - about 2 weeks back - I started thinking of a topic. (I haven't written anything for many years now.) Gandhi was the first thing that came to my mind because at that time, I was reading "The Good Boatman - A portrait of Gandhi". I hadn't given this away to Manja in any way. This also set me think why Manja hasn't written anything on Gandhi all these years? Was Gandhi a taboo to him? But on Dec 19th, Manja, for the first time, mentions Gandhi and makes his unique observation that Gandhi is an antithesis to Darwin's theory!

I am a domicile of North India for more than three years now. North India succumbed to the horrors of partition or 'batwara' more than 60 years ago (Note: Indians, known for their excesses, don't call it 'The Great Partition') Many people in North India hold Gandhi responsible for this event - not because he made it happen but because he couldn't stop it. So, here in the North, it is not uncommon to find someone criticize Gandhi. But surprisingly, I found that the very people who criticize Gandhi don't miss a chance to criticize (Sachin) Tendulkar!

I am proud at making this discovery as it at least clears why people hate Gandhi. Gandhi was no longer human and had risen to the status of God, and people wanted him to grant them all their wishes. So when Gandhi 'let down', it was unbearable. Just like, if Tendulkar 'threw away' a cricket match, it was unforgivable.

So, does one enter into a discussion with such people who ask too much from their Gods?

No. Just forgive them, for they don't know what they are doing.

If Gandhi was born a thousand years back, there would certainly have been another relegion called Gandhism. Chances are less but you cannot completely rule out Tendulkarism too.

I want to end this entry with a paragraph found in the book mentioned earlier, that brought me close to tears. You may not like it as much as I did but I would still leave you with it -

In May 1944, a Gandhi thought to be dying was released by the Raj. He recovered and was joined by Rajagopalachi in the hill town of Pachgani. Following consultations between the two, a wire went from Rajgopalachari to Jinnah asking if the latter would object to his telling the Press that Jinnah had rejected his formula, which he intended to release. Jinnah wired back saying that it was wrong to say he had rejected the scheme. If Gandhi dealt with him direct, Jinnah would refer the formula to the League.

Gandhi now wrote to Jinnah, proposing a meeting. Jinnah agreed and said they could meet in his house in Bombay. Because of Jinnah's poor health the talks at 10 Mount Pleasant Road commenced only on 9 September 1944 and continued till 27 September. The two met fourteen times. Newspapers printed pictures of the two smiling. Many in India prayed. Wavell, the Viceroy, wrote in his diary that he was 'sure that the G-J meeting will result in a demand for the release of the [Congress] working committee' 'The talks were so pregnant with possibilities' observed Asoka Mehta and Kusum Nari, 'that every reporter waiting on Mr Jinnah's lawn began to feel himself a historical character.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Evolutionary Gandhian

Why is Gandhi a great leader? Because he went against the survival of the fittest. He proved the survival of the fittest is unnecessary. He showed the survival of the fittest can be overcome.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Guest Blogger: SHE

I would like to welcome our new guest blogger, SHE. He doesn't need any introduction.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Absurdities of Caste Genetic Studies - Notes

If any Indian Caste Genetic study has M J Bamshad as one of its authors then absurdities to serve their intellectual dishonesty is but natural. I used to wonder why not Bamshad et al. study Punjabi and UP castes thoroughly then come to South India. I would be more convinced of their assumed limitation of those studies once we interpret those results. But after reading this study I'm not so sure of their competency.

Just a thought:
I suppose it's almost 13 years(Mountain et al. 1995?) since studies of Indian caste population started appearing. The complexity of Indian population structure probably has made it difficult for Geneticists to work on a comprehensive study of Indian castes. Barring few attmepts (Sengupta et al. 2005/6, Sahoo et al. 2006, Trivedi et al. 2007) none of the other studies really had all India scope. But in my opinion, these studies have severe shortcomings like small samples sizes, random caste assignments etc...

I would think considering the vastness of the field a co-ordinated effort is the need of the hour. There should be consensus on;
- Sample sizes
- Castes to be studies
- Position of castes
- Non ambiguous caste names
->Many caste names are titles could be found among many castes in a region. A better approach would be exact occupation and if exists old tribal names).
- Validity of assumption that East Asians and Europeans are standard populations.
-> There is a study(Zhao et al. 2008) that calls R2 European when in reality there is hardly any R2 in Europe and even the few observations can be perfectly explained from many angles.

About this study:
1. The present study throws many surprises that help their pre-held notions beautifully.
- J2a is higher in ex-Sudras and Dalits compared to Brahmins. J2b has made vanishing act or shows similar frequency across all castes. Both contrary to Sengupta et al.
- R2 frequency (which was higher than R1a1 among Telugu castes) has nosedived. Contrary to many previous studies(Kivisild, Sahoo etc...)

2. Some of the interpretations are beyond me.
- East Asian mtDNA M. But we don't have any East Asian Y-chromosomes! According to the study we have non-South Asian chromosomes and South Asian chromosomes. There is an East Eurasian Y-chromosome C (Mongolo-Oceanic) but its distribution in this study is rather counterintuitive for our understanding of mtDNA M. So, I would rather call mtDNA M as Mongolic. Oceanic has problems as their major lineages belong to mtDNA N.

3. Selective quoting of other studies
According to this study:
A recent analysis of caste and tribal populations from eastern India (Orissa) demonstrated Indo-European influences on paternal caste lineages [41]. Brahmins showed high Ychromosome affinity to eastern Europeans (M17, haplogroup R1a1).

I have quoted this study (Sahoo, Kashyap 2006) many a time in this blog. The really important point from the study was:
Analysis of Y-chromosomes revealed that the average genetic distance between Orissa Brahmins and Eastern Europeans (0.066) is relatively less than the distance between Eastern Europeans and the Karan (0.098), Khandayat (0.150), or Gope (0.067). Since both upper and lower caste populations, i.e., the Brahmins and Gope, were closer to Europeans and Central Asians, than were the middle caste populations, the Karan and Khandayat, this indicated that genetic distances have no correlation with their position in the caste hierarchy.

This kind of Ghetto study could have ignored quoting that study. It is perfectly alright to have exceptions. However, it is rather appalling that these people went ahead and selectively quoted it.

4. Some mathematics if it helps
Let's take Tamil caste population as 6 crores (60 million)
Brahmins form 3% => Brahmin R1a1 at 34.2% : ~0.32 million
Dalits form 20% => Dalit R1a1 at 20.6% : ~1.25 million
Ex-Sudras form 77% => Ex-Sudra R1a1 at 18.6% : ~4.5 million

Genetic variation in South Indian castes: evidence fr om Y-chromosome, mitochondrial, and autosomal polymorphisms
Watkins et al. 2008
Via Razib's Gene Expression