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  Opinion   Edit  24 Jan 2018  Will trashing science ensure rise of India?

Will trashing science ensure rise of India?

THE ASIAN AGE.
Published : Jan 24, 2018, 1:19 am IST
Updated : Jan 24, 2018, 1:19 am IST

To be fair Darwin never said he saw an ape turn into a man.

Satyapal Singh
 Satyapal Singh

With India’s minister of state for HRD Satyapal Singh questioning Darwin’s theory of evolution without offering a shred of scientific evidence, and asking for it to be taken down from the curriculum in schools and colleges, we may truly be said to be living in “interesting times”, as the ancient Chinese curse goes.

The HRD ministry makes educational policy for all levels and allocates funds for scientific research at universities and advanced institutions of learning and knowledge production.

 

So fascinating is Mr Singh’s antediluvian observation that the official Chinese news agency Xinhua reported it in detail, although with a straight face. But the Chinese must be laughing up their sleeve. Here’s the minister of a country that hopes to match China in science, technology and economics and compete geopolitically. Good luck to such a charmed country!

Mr Singh’s point is simple. No oral or written testimony exists which says that the ancestors of Indians saw an ape turn into a man, and that, according to the minister, so obviously makes Darwin wrong. The minister is a former Mumbai police commissioner and is ready to entertain as evidence only what he has seen or heard.

 

The RSS’ and BJP’s ranks are packed with scientists, historians and other scholars of the calibre of the former policeman. Evidently, this is the basis on which the RSS chief wants India to be “Vishwa Guru” — the world’s sage.

The fundamental premise underlying such an optimistic outlook is that the rudiments of all science and mathematics are embedded in the Vedas, upon which great Indian minds constructed wonderful theories up until the time of the arrival of the Muslims, and later Christians, after which learning in India became imitative and scorn began to be heaped upon the ancient (Hindu) civilisation. It follows that India has nothing new to learn from the world.

 

It’s in this vein that, speaking at the science congress once, Prime Minister Narendra Modi informed the world that ancient Indians had mastered plastic surgery and Lord Ganesha’s elephant’s trunk was proof.

Thousands of the country’s top scientists have asked the junior HRD minister to withdraw his remarks, which they deem to be an affront to science, and the scientific method. But that’s unlikely to happen, given the supercilious and chauvinist environment which has been constructed of late.

The question to ask the government is whether there is a hidden project to pull down fundamental science and remove it from educational institutions.

 

As for the naturalist Darwin, to be fair he never said he saw an ape turn into a man. His theory of evolution suggests that apes and humans have a common ancestor. The RSS-BJP view of science is no different from that of Islamists and backward-looking Christian fanatics, who too question the theory of evolution.

Tags: darwin, satyapal singh