Rahul Gandhi peddles false claims made by NIE on genetic study even after Ministry of Culture flags it
The New Indian Express (TNIE) had recently published a report claiming that the central Ministry of Culture was to investigate the “racial purity of Indians”. He was talking about the Ministry of Culture eager to acquire state-of-the-art DNA profiling kits and machines to trace genetic history and “trace the purity of races in India”.
The ‘purity of races’ angle in the article comes from the quote from Professor Vasant Shinde, who is an assistant professor at the National Institute of Advanced Studies in Bangalore. Shinde notes that his team wants to study the mutation and mixing of genes that have occurred over the past 10,000 years. While genetic mutation speaks to the interaction of Indians with other populations of the world, studying it will give us a clear idea of our genetic history.
In the TNIE article, news of the survey to trace the genetic history of the Indian population was confused with researchers studying the “purity” of races in India. While the concept of “race” remains purely a social concept and has no biological basis, purity here meant tracing the origins of DNA haplogroups among the Indian population. The deliberate contestation of both caused a stir among readers who were perplexed by the unscientific claims of the article. Soon, the Ministry of Culture flatly dismissed the article as “misleading”.
However, it was up to Congressman Rahul Gandhi to cite the report already labeled as “factually incorrect” and indirectly connect the dots with Hitler’s racist policies in Nazi Germany. While tracing genetic ancestry had nothing to do with “racial purity,” Rahul Gandhi saw an opportunity to tag the article and score a political goal. Labeling the misleading TNIE article – which could have sentimental repercussions and polarization of fans in society, Gandhi wrote on Twitter: “The last time a country had a Ministry of Culture studying ‘racial purity’ », it did not end well. India wants job security and economic prosperity, not “racial purity”, Prime Minister.
The last time a country had a ministry of culture studying “racial purity,” it didn’t end well.
India wants job security and economic prosperity, not ‘racial purity’, Prime Minister. pic.twitter.com/6q9qBAA9l8
—Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) May 31, 2022
The Ministry of Culture rejected the misleading TNIE report
The Department of Culture took note of the article that appeared in the Morning Standard edition of TNIE on May 28 and called it “misleading, mischievous and contrary to fact”. “The proposal is not related to establishing genetic history and ‘tracing the purity of races in India’ as discussed in the article,” he said. The statement noted that although the proposal of the Anthropological Survey of India (AnSI) is substantively reviewed, it only deals with upgrading the existing DNA lab in Kolkata to next generation sequencing facilities for some ongoing projects.
The article – The Ministry of Culture to study the “racial purity” of Indians, in the Morning Standard of May 28 is misleading, mischievous and contrary to the facts. The proposal is not related to establishing genetic history and “tracing the purity of races in India” as discussed in the article. pic.twitter.com/NMjtxCxia3
— Ministry of Culture (@MinOfCultureGoI) May 31, 2022
Even after the Ministry of Culture dismissed the report as factually incorrect, Rahul Gandhi continued to sensationalise the fake news to capitalize on the charged sentiment against alleged research on “racial purity”. Central Culture Minister G Kishan Reddy lashed out at Gandhi in a tweet saying, “Before Shri Gandhi’s tweet (probably from somewhere overseas), Ministry of Culture, GoI had already flagged this article as “misleading”. Is he oblivious to this or did he intentionally choose to spread this fake news further? »
Before Sh Gandhi’s tweet (probably from somewhere overseas), the @MinOfCultureGoI had previously flagged this article as “misleading”.
Is he oblivious to this or did he intentionally choose to spread this fake news further? https://t.co/VXN2aeR1oT
—G Kishan Reddy (@kishanreddybjp) May 31, 2022
What the experts say
Renowned genetic scientist Neeraj Rai has hit out at the New Indian Express for deliberately publishing a misleading article. Calling the article “mischievous”, he said he was upset that his research was described as studying “racial purity”. DNA research has great potential to improve our understanding of human health and history and should not be used to support discriminatory ideas, he added.
Extremely upset to hear this mischievous article from @NewIndianXpress where our research is described as studying “racial purity”. DNA research has great potential to improve our understanding of human health and history and should not be used to support discriminatory ideas pic.twitter.com/oj6cl3gEg9
— Niraj Rai (@NirajRai3) June 1, 2022
Rai, who runs the former DNA laboratory of the Birbal Sahni Institute of Paleosciences, government. of India, criticized Rahul Gandhi for his blatant attempt to politicize a scientific inquiry. He wrote tagging Rahul Gandhi: “Racial purity is not a thing and race is not a biologically supported context. It has been a tool for politicians to propagate racism and should not be confused with genetic ancestry.
Journalists and politicians are at their worst.
Mr. Gandhi – Racial purity is not a thing and race is not a biologically supported context. It has been a tool for politicians to spread racism and should not be confused with genetic ancestry. https://t.co/UNrGQt860W
— Niraj Rai (@NirajRai3) June 1, 2022
Author and economist Sanjeev Sanyal, who has written several books on Indian history and geography, noted that this is a classic case of deliberate deception of scientific study. “Archaeogenetics is a well-established field and attempts to trace the human journey. On the contrary, it establishes that there is no “pure race”. Indeed, we are not even a ‘pure’ species,” he wrote.
Classic example of a deliberately misleading article. Archaeogenetics is a well-established field and attempts trace the human journey. On the contrary, it establishes that there is no “pure race”. Indeed, we are not even a “pure” species. pic.twitter.com/JhCmWoig1F
— Sanjeev Sanyal (@sanjeevsanyal) June 1, 2022
Author and scientist Anand Ranganathan, who teaches molecular biology at Jawaharlal Nehru University, argued that race is not a biological concept but a social concept. “Race is not a scientific concept, purity even less so. Not only are 8 billion humans 99.97% genetically identical, but the modern human genome is also a hodgepodge of primate, plant, bacterium, parasite, and virus DNA. he tweeted.
Race is NOT a scientific concept, purity even less so. Not only are 8 billion humans 99.97% genetically identical, but the modern human genome is a hodgepodge of primate, plant, bacterium, parasite, and virus DNA.
Only fools confuse investigating genetic ancestry with racial purity.
— Anand Ranganathan (@ARanganathan72) June 1, 2022
While the paper’s claims and its deliberate politicization by Rahul Gandhi have been criticized left, right and centre, this is not the only instance where a scientific study related to genetics has been politicized. The “Aryan Invasion Theory”, which has been used by Dravidian politicians and left-wing historians for decades to assert that the “race” of Aryans invaded/emigrated to India between 2000 BCE and 1500 BCE, has been debunked after new research proves that all claims of an “invasion” by a “white-skinned Aryan race” have no scientific basis. DNA studies have established that not only do all people of the Indian subcontinent share a common ancestry, but that there have been migrations “outwards” from India, hinting at widespread trade and related migration.