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Same gotra marriages lead to genetic disorders
The issue of same Gotra marriages is hitting the headlines for last several months. Several organisations of Haryana, Delhi, Rajsthan and U.P are demanding that Hindu Marriage Act should be amended to ban marriages between the same Gotra.

THE ISSUE of same Gotra marriages is hitting the  headlines for last several months. Several organisations of Haryana, Delhi, Rajsthan and U.P are demanding that Hindu Marriage Act should be amended to ban marriages between the same Gotra. They are advocating their case on the plea that same gotra boys and girls are like brothers and sisters and hence their marriage is against the old customs and traditions.

The Delhi High Court, Punjab and Haryana High Courts have rejected the petitions demanding ban between the same Gotra marriages stating that there is no such provision in the statuette book.

Various Khaps of Haryana recently held a panchayat at historical Meham Chobisi Chabutra in Rohtak district of Haryana to press their demand for amendment in the Act banning same Gotra marriages.

They have threatened that if the act is not amended then a complete Bandh will be observed in Haryana on September 21. It is agreed that legally speaking there is no ban on same Gotra marriages but medical experts across the world and  from different religions feel that same gotra marriages may lead to genetic disorders.

Azad.K.Kaushik , Professor of Immunology, told this scribe that essentially, marriages within a gotra reflect inbreeding with significant health consequences. Kaushik is of the opinion based on an in depth study and survey on the issue that inbreeding generally increases pre-reproductive mortality and crude mortality increases with inbreeding in proportion to the mortality rate.

Morbidity increases significantly with inbreeding in many diseases, studies in many countries has revealed this. According to Kaushik, studies from southern India have clearly shown that a marriage within a Gotra or close relations contributes considerably to infant mortality and morbidity and hence for these reasons, marriages within a Gotra or closely related clans are not advisable because of genetic defects that are likely to occur.

Representatives of various Khaps had earlier made representations to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and President Partibha Patil asking for amendments in the Act.

Shadi Lal Batra, Rajya Sabha member from Haryana and a close confidante of Haryana Chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda has also introduced a private member bill in the house demanding amendment in Hindu Marriage Act banning same Gotra marriages. Opponents of this demand, however, argue that same gotra marriages are not in practice and Khap panchayats are raising this non-issue to maintain their supremacy.

Kaushik told that great Rishis of India had created the Gotra system to ensure that inbreeding does not occur and it stands to scrutiny of modern science also. In fact because of Gotra system and marriages outside Gotra, northern India has few genetic diseases as compared to others areas.

Kaushik feels that in Europe and North Amercia, genetic counselling prior to marriage is conducted and it is consistent with Gotra system to maintain genetic diversity. Supporting the demand, Kaushik hoped that it is important to understand many Indian traditions that have a strong scientific basis and should not be discarded in the name of modernity.

Another expert Dr. Lalji Singh, former director of Center for Cellular and Molecular Biology, Hyderabad, while warning about the consequences of same gotra marriages said that if the same are not checked coming generations will be affected by genetic diseases, adding that same Gotra marriages are non-scientific and may invite hundreds of diseases.
He said that even the Parsi community has started realizing the consequences of same Gotra marriages.

The Head of Psychiatry department of Pt.B.D.Sharma University of Health Sciences, Rohtak in Haryana is of the opinion that marriages between same Gotra or close relations might lead to genetic disorders.

Even in agriculture sector hybridization is behind strong and quality crops. Murrah buffalo, the pride of Haryana is also the result of hybridzation .

The Ministry of Environment and Forests  has also given instructions that every Zoo shall endeavour to keep and maintain animals of various species in their collection in such a sex ratio that optimizes breeding and helps in developing self -sustaining population of each species.

Rishi Dayanand has also opposed the marriages between the same Gotra in Satyaarth Parkash. Even Guru Ramdev has also opposed the same gotra marriages. Media is projecting the issue as issue of Jat community whereas it is fact that every community be the Gujjars, Rajputs, Banias., Brahmins and Punjabis opposes the same Gotra marriages.

About one and half decade back the same Gotra marriage issue had raised a storm in Rajsthan, where daughter of a former prince of Jaipur had married with a same gotra youth resulting into social boycott  of the family.

The issue has now taken political colour in Haryana with main opposition party Indian National Lok Dal planning to introduce a private member bill demanding ban on same Gotra marriages in the coming session of the State Assembly. This will put Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda in a catch -22 situation as he can neither support the issue nor oppose it considering the public sentiments.
 

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