ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Different Genetic Pool?

Arvind Panagariya’s special article somewhat cutely titled “Does India Really Suffer from Worse Child Malnutrition Than Sub-Saharan Africa?” (EPW, 4 May 2013) argues that there must be genetic factors that result in poorer heights and weights among Indians. This would lead to the idea that the poor come from a different genetic pool than the rich.

Arvind Panagariya’s special article somewhat cutely titled “Does India Really Suffer from Worse Child Malnutrition Than Sub-Saharan Africa?” (EPW, 4 May 2013) argues that there must be genetic factors that result in poorer heights and weights among Indians. This would lead to the idea that the poor come from a different genetic pool than the rich. That would be the only implicit explanation that would account for his saying that we should have different standards for the population, ignoring the research that shows Indian adults from privileged backgrounds achieving developed nation standards of height and weight. In fact, he even discounts a south Delhi study with the argument that perhaps the genetic pool of the sample was of a taller stock.

Let us accept that the poor usually come from the scheduled caste/scheduled tribe/Other Backward Classes (SC/ST/OBCs) backgrounds, and the rich from dominant caste backgrounds. This does not mean that there are no rich SC/ST/OBCs, but only that the predominant distribution would reflect a correlation between caste and class in the population statistics. Panagariya’s differentiation would imply that the lower castes come from a physically different genetic-racial stock than the upper castes.

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