Modi ministers ‘inventing’ scientific history to thrust greatness on Hindu India
The regime change in India’s state of Tripura made headlines when the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) wrested power from Communists who had ruled over the remote northeastern state for a record 23 years.
In contrast, the appointment of Biplob Deb as Tripura’s new BJP Chief Minister was a low key affair which was barely noticed outside Tripura.
But last week Deb, 44, suddenly grabbed national attention by announcing that the Internet was up and running in India in 10th century BC. Now anyone who reads newspapers or watches television in the world’s biggest democracy is aware of Deb’s existence.
But Deb is not alone. He is in the company of top BJP leaders, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who have made shockingly absurd claims of scientific and technological ‘achievements’ in ancient India to glorify the Hindu way of life thousands of years ago before Muslim or Christian invaders set foot in the country.
According to Deb, Internet and satellite communication existed in ancient India enabling kings to monitor the performance of their generals in battles fought in faraway places.
He accused Europeans and Americans of taking credit for inventing Internet by suppressing facts. When people laughed at him, he said that those mocking him were guilty of running down Indian civilization.
Ancient plastic surgery
In 2014, soon after becoming the PM, Modi told a gathering of doctors that the Hindu deity, Ganesha, who is depicted with an elephant’s head supplanted on a human body, was the product of cosmetic surgery performed by another deity, Shiva, who was a plastic surgeon, among other things.
Last month, a week after British cosmologist Stephen Hawking’s death, Science and Technology Minister Harsh Vardhan claimed during the Indian Science Congress that Hawking had once acknowledged that the Vedas, or Hindu scriptures, had a scientific theory which was far superior than Albert Einstein’s equation E=mc2, or the Theory of Relativity – one of the pillars of modern Physics.
All such ridiculous claims have been met with howls of protest. Squirming in embarrassment, scientists and students are taking out processions across India to protest against what they call “anti-science policies and obscurantism of the Indian government and its ministers”.
Nilanjan Mukhopadhyay, Modi’s biographer and a leading commentator on right-wing politics, told Al Arabiya: “The flurry of fictional claims is reinforcing the old image of India being the land of snake charmers and a country of “irrationalists” who have nothing to do with science.”
“The BJP top brass is spreading obscurantism and branding rationalists as anti-Hindu and anti-national. Their goal is the consolidation of unquestioning supporters of the BJP’s campaign against those who are not blind supporters. Hence BJP is being projected as the repository of Hindu culture and those who criticize it are accused of criticizing the nation.”
“The BJP’s goal is to inject mythology into everyday life. The Indian Council of Historical Research is now propagating that history can’t be based solely on historical research but must include mythology and popular beliefs which would turn Ram into a historical character. So-called faith overrides everything today.”
In January, Satyapal Singh, Modi’s Minister for Higher Education who has a post-graduate degree in Chemistry, urged schools and colleges to stop teaching Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution as “no one ever saw an ape turning into a human being”.
Singh even insists that the airplane was invented by Indian scholar Shivkar Bapuji Talpade 7000 years ago and not the Wright Brothers.
According to Vasudev Devnani, the cow which Hindus worship is the only living creature that both inhales and exhales oxygen! And laboratories of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research are researching the virtues of panchgavya, a concoction of cow dung, cow urine, milk, curd, and ghee (rarefied butter). Another hot topic is the "healing" properties of Ganga water.
Echoing the predominant national sentiment, analyst Rupa Subramanya commented on twitter: "The anti-intellectualism and regressive streak from sections of the BJP continues to astound and worry. Rather than solve today's problems they’re busy romanticizing a fictional past that never existed. Pathetic and embarrassing.”
And in scathing remarks on Deb’s mind-wrenching claim, Indian Express wrote: “Vinton Cerf and Tim Berners-Lee, fathers of the Internet and the Web respectively, are strangely silent. But of course, it’s beneath their dignity to educate Biplob Deb.”