Memories of indigenous achievements in science and history can help us in making our onward steps safe and successful. It sheds light in our life. But, if we ignore the real facts and twist them for the purpose of mere boasting, then our ignorance may lead us to the depth of failure and despair.
Vaikom Mohammed Basheer, the best known fiction writer, as an astute observer of human life and characteristics, has humorously mocked at this impolite boasting. In his ‘Ntuppappakoraanendaarnnu' , its protagonist Kunhippathumma, a naive and innocent village belle, criticizes the vain boasting of her mother as a ploy to hide their shortcomings. It could only be a far-fetched conjecture that Basheer was foreseeing the present situation in India, our dear mother land, slipping into a dangerous reversal of thought and endangering its noble heritage. It is heart-aching for the patriots to note that this regressive march is supported by the ‘Hindutva' forces.
Ancient India was a land of sages and scholars. It effectively contributed to science and technology, centuries ago, even before the western countries set up their laboratories. Indian contributions were praiseworthy as they strengthened the fundamentals of science. But, the gaffes of the Tripura chief minister Biplab Kumar and the like are only fractious and laughable. Their ludicrous statements are insulting to the scientific spirit of India. According to him, the internet system existed in India even during the time of Mahabharata. He states that we need not look to a US observatory for the specifics of lunar and solar eclipses. Our pundits ,by consulting the Panchang (Hindu Calendar), can do better. Cow urine can treat cancer and Panchagavya(a concoction of cow urine, dung, milk, ghee etc) is a wonderful remedy so go hisclaims. BJP leaders have the same chant and tenor. It was Narendra Modi who declared, while addressing a gathering of doctors in Mumbai in 2014 ,that in India, thousands of years ago, there was plastic surgery and the face of Ganapathy obviously demonstrates it. See where the fractious remarks come from! An invited plenary speaker Captain Anand Bodas, at no less a body than the Indian Science Congress in Mumbai in January 2015, raised many an eyebrow by speaking on ancient Indian aviation technology. According to him planes were invented in the Vedic age. An online petition by a scientist at NASA research centre, signed by two hundred other scientists demanded that those remarks should be cancelled as they mix mythology and science and mislead people.
When we trace back the history of RSS and BJP, we find their founder members were the admirers of fascism and Nazism , the totalitarian movements that swept through Europe. Senior RSS members had direct links with both Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler. Savarkar criticized Nehru for his staunch opposition to fascism. In fact Mussolini came to power in Italy in 1922 under a parliamentary coalition until the National Fascist Party seized control and ushered in a one-party dictatorship by early 1925.
Mussolini, very soon, transformed the country’s economy along fascist lines.It was the political turmoil and popular dissatisfaction after world war I and the consequent troubles and economic depression that paved the way for the emergence of fascism. The country was brought to the edge of chaos. It looked for a strong leader to rule. As the disorder grew, Mussolini and his combat squad recruited unemployed ex-soldiers and formed parliamentary squadrons that controlled the streets of Italy. These ‘Black Shirts’ ,as they were called, marched to Rome .This persuaded King Victor Emanuel 3rd to appoint Mussolini as the Prime minister. He was supported by the military, business class and the right wing politicians.
But, Mussolini gradually dismantled the democratic institutions and in 1925 declared himself the dictator, taking the title of ‘Il Duce’ (the leader ). Mussolini used violence to suppress the opposition. Exhibiting a sense of power and confidence in a time of chaos, he tried to reinvigorate national pride in order to buttress and safeguard his position. Mussolini’s government favoured the wealthy and the industrial class at the expense of the workers. The workers’ wages were kept low. The curriculum for schools was overhauled and the children were to follow strict rules. He was training the youth to serve the fascist ideology.
Observers of the present scenario in our dear motherland fear that it is a repeat of the fascist excesses. The government is trying to overhaul the education system - especially the faculties of science and history. Raising the spectre of pre-science with untested claims of discoveries in the Vedic past, India our dear mother land, is made the butt of jokes. The Indian scientists participated in the ‘earth day’ celebration in 2017 and conducted ‘March for Science’. They asked the government to stop the propagation of unscientific, obscurantist and outdated ideas, and to develop scientific temper. Also, it was demanded that the government should ensure that “education system does not impart ideas that contradict scientific evidence”. Unfortunately, there was no response from the government. The Breakthrough Science Society (BSS) that coordinated the march criticized the bizarre claims and statements by the ministers and leaders of the ruling party.
“Indigenous science holds a wealth of knowledge and is a powerful paradigm by which we understand our place in the living world”- Robin Kimmerer, plant ecologist said. But it knows no partisan divides. Unfortunately, the scientific spirit of India is being undermined by the blind boasting of the politicians. It is nothing but a ploy to hide our weakness as Vaikom Mohammed Basheer pointed out.