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Imperial Gazetteer of India, v. 1, p. 500.


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CHAPTER X
PUBLIC HEALTH AND VITAL STATISTICS
THE general state of the public health in every country depends
on the measure of adjustment of the relations of the individual
and the race to the environment: the more complete and con-
tinuous the adjustment, the greater the longevity. The tendency
of European civilization is to give man more and more com-
plete control of his surroundings, whereas in India these are
actually and relatively stronger, more capricious and unreliable,
than in the West, while the individual is less resistant and
adaptable. These influences have moulded the moral and
physical character of the people and their civilization; and a
brief reference to some of the salient features of the situation
will tend to elucidate the vital statistics, as well as to explain
some of the peculiar difficulties of the problems they disclose.
Conditions As regards the individual, the main general results of the
in India as
affecting marriage customs are those to be expected from the absence of
the indi- free selection and from endogamous restriction: viz. increase
vidual. in the power of transmitting characteristics ('prepotency'), a
deterioration of physique ', lessened resistance to disease, and,
Early possibly, some relative impairment of fertility. The almost
marriage. universal custom of marriage at puberty implies that practically
all the immature adolescents of every generation have an equal
opportunity of propagating their kind; and there is none of
the salutary elimination effected in the West by the celibacy
of large classes. The general average product must be lower;
and apart from the greater tendency to disease, inherited and
acquired, the duration of life is affected in another way. For
there is probably a direct relation between early marriage and
1 The result of 29,000 observations on healthy prisoners in Bengal showed
that 6o per cent. were between 5' 2" and s' 4" in height; x3 per cent. were
below 5' 2t, and only 0.7 per cent. above 5' 8". The average weight of
the healthy Bengali peasant was shown to be Iog lb. (7 stone II lb.).
In Bombay the physical standard is even lower. (Buchanan, Indian
Medical Gazette, October, 189 7.)



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