Bengaluru

IISc. cancels controversial lecture

The lecture was scheduled for Wednesday at the Centre for Ecological Sciences at IISc.  

The Centre for Ecological Sciences at the Indian Institute of Science was forced to cancel a lecture by scientist and Kannada writer K.N. Ganeshaiah after students and other citizens took objection to the content on the grounds that it was both “Islamophobic and sexist”. The lecture was scheduled for Wednesday, but cancelled on Tuesday evening.

Prof. Ganeshaiah, an agricultural scientist from the University of Agricultural Sciences, confirmed the development and said he had received a communication from the institute.

However, Anurag Kumar, Director, IISc, denied any knowledge of the lecture or its cancellation.

The talk was titled ‘Polygamy, Sexual Selection and Terrorism’ and the abstract argued that polygamy and female foeticide created mate-deprived “bare branches” men, making them vulnerable to take up crime, terrorism and militancy. “Bare branches of certain societies are likely to provide the ground force for terrorism,” read the abstract. It further says the talk would “illustrate a strong spatial and anthropological association between polygamy, female foeticide and terrorism”.

Sources said several students of the Centre for Ecological Sciences and other departments of IISc. took objection to the lecture. The abstract of the lecture was shared on Twitter on Tuesday drawing sharp criticism from several students and academics.

One Twitter user termed the talk “A1 eugenicist talk”, while another handle, while praising the IISc. administration for cancelling it, tweeted: “Islamophobia runs deep in India because of its institutional backing.”

Prof. Ganeshaiah, who is also a Kannada novelist writing thrillers in the alternate history genre, said: “It is sad that people are not ready to listen and then decide. The talk was based on an acclaimed book ‘Bare Branches’ by Valerie Hudson and Andrea den Boer published by Massachusetts Institute of Technology. It’s a research that we need to be open to.”

The book ‘Bare Branches’ argues: “High male-to-female ratios often trigger domestic and international violence. Most violent crime is committed by young unmarried males who lack stable social bonds”.

‘Sex ratios skewed’

The authors suggest that “the sex ratios of many Asian countries, particularly China and India — which represent almost 40% of the world’s population — are being skewed in favour of males on a scale that may be unprecedented in human history” attributing it to offspring sex selection – female foeticide and infanticide.

However, Prof. Ganeshaiah’s talk argued that polygamy was also a contributing factor to creation of bare branches, which is not part of the argument in the book, thereby raising objections of Islamophobia. “I was trying to make an argument that polygamy also skewed the availability of mates in certain communities. But polygamy is not limited to Islam alone. It was prevalent in other communities as well,” he said.

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Printable version | Nov 27, 2020 12:58:02 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/bangalore/iisc-cancels-controversial-lecture/article31034724.ece

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