Imagine seeking admission at a top management institute—say, one of the IIMs—and all that is required is pressing your finger against a fingerprint scanner to figure out if you are eligible, and not some tough entrance exam. It may seem absurd, but the Center for Research and Industrial Staff Performance (CRISP), Bhopal, a government-funded institute, is administering a fingerprint-based aptitude test to gauge the inborn skills of individuals. CRISP says that with its Dermatoglyphics Multiple Intelligence Test (DMIT), one can generate a profile of an individual’s innate intelligence, learning patterns, and aptitude. As incredulous as that sounds, CRISP is not the first to adopt this method of adjudging intellect. Schools in Mumbai have also experimented with this, against the advice of educationists and medical health professionals—the tests, though, had been kept voluntary with guardians’ consent necessary.
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It is unclear if DMIT can accurately gauge a person’s intellect and other attributes—it comes with its fair share of red flags, from talk about tapping “mid-brain” activity to its association with non-conventional medicine disciplines. But there are a horde of students and parents who swear by its efficacy. The fact that the tests have been used in developed nations such as Japan and Sweden also makes DMIT difficult to dismiss. What, however, is known and acknowledged by the scientific community is that dermatoglyphs—or the ridges and lines that make our finger- and palm-prints—are influenced by genetics and our environment. Dertmatoglyphics, the scientific study of dertmatoglyphs, is also acknowledged as an important tool in studying human evolution in anthropology. Geneticists, too, ascribe value to it in their study of chromosomal disorders in infants, some of which may affect an individual’s intellectual capacity as an adult. But whether these mirror the actual intelligence of a person or not is still to be established.