It would not be an exaggeration if anybody feels that the 106th Indian Science Congress that concluded the other day in Lovely Professional University, Jalandhar, made our country a laughing stock before the world. Apart from triggering a handful of controversies and being a forum for certain absurdities, it would be foolish to believe that there was any take-away from the conclave helpful to the country's advance in science.
So much was the disrepute brought by our 'scientific researchers'. In fact over the last few years - to be more specific since Narendra Modi took office - this has been the outcome of all Science Congress sessions. Indian Science Congress has become another forum for implementing Hindutva agenda in the field of science and technology – as in many other bodies of the kind. This year again saw the gimmick of trumpeting postulates without any basis in science or history, but with references to Hindu puranas and epics – as done in previous years. And with that, the real researchers from 60 countries, including Nobel Laureates, who had converged for the meet became redundant.
The most notable 'paper' presented at the event under the theme 'Future India: Science and Technology', was by Vice Chancellor of Andhra University G. Nageswar Rao. He tried to prove that as early as thousands of years ago, Indians had knowledge of stem cell technology and in-vitro fertilization techniques. And his evidence is drawn from the scriputures he cited: Kauravas were test-tube babies. Sudarsanachakra and similar devices hint at the use of missile technology in 'ancient' India. In addition to 'pushpaka' aircraft, Ravana had other 24 aircraft for which airports had functioned in Sri Lanka. He also has a contention that even before Darwin these 'scientific books' had informed the world about the theory of evolution. And he asks what else can be the 'dashavatara' of Vishnu!. The notion is that the first creature emerged in water, and see, that 'creature' is the fish incarnation of Vishnu.
And to beat Nageswara Rao's discoveries from Tamilnadu, came an independent researcher, Jagathala Krishnan. He establishes that Newton went wrong in theory of gravity and Einstein erred in theory of relativity; for the right knowledge the scientific community have to return to the puranas. He went to the extent of suggesting that the 'gravitational waves' forecast by Einstein were to be renamed as 'Modi waves'. There were other 'papers' of the kind too. Some one who has been conducting research in Punjab University about dinosaurs for the last 25 years, also ended up in puranas after his research. His hypothesis is that dinosaurs were first discovered by Brahma.
During earlier conferences too, similar exercises had found entry. Several 'research papers' were presentd covering themes like: Indians flew aircraft before Wright brothers, gold was made out of hay, surgical equipment capable of splitting hair locks, inter-planetary journeys ten thousand years ago, bodily gains of blowing shell. What more, a special session for this area alone was set apart at the Mumbai Congress in 2015. That is why, those like Nobel Laureate Venkataraman Ramakrishnan called Indian Science Congress a 'circus'.
These are not mere jokes to be laughed away. The whole exercise has to be seen as an endeavour to first turn myths to history and then convert it to a broad scientific discpline. And the so-evolved 'knowledge' will eventually have the hue and odour of fascism. Even currently, such 'knowledge' has started being applied. Uttarakhand government has already passed an allocation of Rs 25 crore to first discover 'mrithasanjeevani' mentioned in Ramayana, and then to produce a 'chiranjeevi' drug out of it. Whole universities have got geared up for research on cow's urine. All this shows what happen later to all the things that were enjoyed as joke a few years ago. Hence we have to look forward to our government accepting such 'scientific papers' in the same manner.
In a different sense, what goes on under Modi government is an attempt to saffronize science, as much as attempted in history. This 'Modi wave' has to be brought to an end at any cost. Another sad fact is that through such 'dissertations' our real scientific heritage is getting blacked out. The diameter of Mars was first determined by Indian astronomers. And ours is a tradition of having contributed to the world many works like 'Surya Sidhantika' in fifth century. Also worth mention is also the knowledge gained through those like Varahamihira, Aryabhatta and even Neelakanth Somayaji. But sadly enough, what is happening through Science Congress are acts that deprive all this of their value. The most unfortunate fact is that all this is happening in a country which has adopted inculcation of scientific temperament as a constitutionally laid down policy.