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India: Mixing up science with religio-mythical is done by evangelists / preachers and not by head of a secular state | AIFRTE statement

2 November 2014

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All India Forum for Right to Education

31 Oct 2014

AIFRTE condemns Prime Minister’s Mythology of Science

Inaugurating Mukesh Ambani’s new hospital in Mumbai on Saturday 25th October 2014, the Prime minister stunned the nation by claiming that the Mahabharat’s story of Karna, who was not born of his mother’s womb, was evidence of the fact that “genetic science” was prevalent at the time, and that worshippers of Lord Ganesh should reflect that there must have been some “plastic surgeon” who performed the “surgery” of affixing an elephant head on to a human body!! (Full text available at PMO website)

This muddling up of scientific terminology with religio-mythical texts is typical of evangelists and preachers on television and at mass meetings where they impress uninformed followers of the ancient glories of a country that currently boasts of having the largest number of illiterates of any nation in the world. But to have the Prime Minister promoting such vain boasts at the inauguration of a contemporary state-of-the-art medical facility reveals the mind-set of a politician who, for all his talk of transforming India into a scientifically and technologically developed nation, is unable to intellectually rise above the limitations of his Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) training. Not surprisingly then, his views are in tune with the ideas of the likes of Dina Nath Batra, whose books the Gujarat government has introduced in all schools in the state.

That such an ideology is being promoted in schools, and that the PM himself creates official opportunities to lecture students and the nation along these lines is not merely laughable or outrageous. It is a blatant violation of the Constitution which the PM, all central and state governments and political parties are bound to defend as they derive their legitimacy and authority solely from the Constitution.

Further, this ideology presents a real threat to any attempt at promoting rational and critical thinking among children and youth in the country. Public figures of authority who present themselves as role models before young people should be ready to shoulder their responsibility towards the future generation. They have to overcome the desire to be ideologues and propagandists for anti-constitutional values.

AIFRTE Presidium

Dr. Meher Engineer, West Bengal, Chairperson, AIFRTE;

Ex-President, Indian Academy of Social Science; Kolkata

Prof. Wasi Ahmed, Bihar, Former Joint Secretary, AIFUCTO; Patna

Sri Prabhakar Arade, Maharashtra, President, AIFETO; Kolhapur

Prof. G. Haragopal, Andhra Pradesh, National Fellow, ICSSR; TISS, Hyderabad

Prof. Madhu Prasad, Delhi, Formerly Dept. of Philosophy, Zakir Husain College, Delhi University

Prof. Anil Sadgopal, Madhya Pradesh, Former Dean, Faculty of Education, Delhi University; Bhopal

Prof. K. M. Shrimali, Delhi, Formerly Dept. of History, Delhi University

Dr. Anand Teltumbde, West Bengal, Professor of Management, IIT, Kharagpur