New Delhi: A lecture by agricultural scientist K.N. Ganeshaiah on “Polygamy, sexual selection and terrorism” at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bengaluru, was cancelled after students raised objections about what they said were the Islamophobic and sexist undertones in the talk’s abstract.
According to a report in The News Minute, when students at the Centre of Ecological Sciences at IISc received an email about a talk to be held on March 11, it went unnoticed thanks to the fact that a number of external lectures are held every week.
According to an abstract shared by the speaker on the email, the lecture was about “Polygamy, sexual selection and terrorism”. Without explicitly naming any community, the talk was purportedly about how polygamy caused poorer men in certain societies to become sexually deprived, allegedly rendering them more prone to “terrorist activities”.
The abstract argued that the “instinctive nature of males to be promiscuous” was socially and religiously granted in the form of polygamy. Furthermore, in such societies, “a large set of males from socially and economically lower strata is deprived of mates” which in turn leads to “psychological trauma”, and subsequently encourages them to indulge in violence and militancy. The abstract also argued that “polygamy and female foeticide could be strong contributors to the ground army required for terrorist activities”.
Once the abstract of the talk was revealed, it prompted outrage from students, who approached the internal committee of the department that had scheduled the talk. The lecture had to be cancelled just a day before it was supposed to be held.
— pranav minasandra ² (@PMinasandra) March 10, 2020
Ganeshaiah, who is a retired professor from the University of Agricultural Sciences in Bengaluru, told The Hindu: “It is sad that people are not ready to listen and then decide. The talk was based on an acclaimed book … by Valerie Hudson and Andrea den Boer” and that it’s research “we need to be open to”.
This isn’t the first time IISc’s students have raised objections against the contents and speakers of talks organised at the institute. In October 2019, a talk by Sri Sri Ravishankar was met with protests from a section of students and alumni who demanded that the institute disassociate itself from him for his remarks on mental health and other pseudoscientific claims.
The spiritual leader has also been criticised for many of his other views, including at a student interaction at Jawaharlal Nehru University in 2017, during which he referred to homosexuality as a “tendency” that may not be “permanent”.
Also, in October 2017, IIsc’s alumni association had, to the surprise of many in the academic community, decided to hold an astrology workshop on campus. The event was later cancelled after students, alumni and some faculty members protested against it.