oving from science to history and history to fiction and facts, further BJP plans #RashtraRakshaMahayagya for its victory in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, Prime Minister Narendra Modi to give the first aahuti in the 7-day event, so don’t we need to vote? 108 hawan kunds, 2,100 priests and 51,000 attendees will pray for Modi’s re-election. What if voters decide not to vote? The recent elections witnessed the strongest-ever polarisation in the electoral process.
In addition, BJP is not only re-writing science but they are possibly rewriting every subject that will benefit their agenda. In early incidents, the reference to Jawaharlal Nehru has been deleted from the new Social Science textbook for Class VIII. There was no longer any mention of who India’s first prime minister was. The rewriting of History textbooks is an old priority of the Hindu nationalist movement. In the 1970s, former Jana Sangh members in the Janata Party and the Morarji Desai government had asked for changes in textbooks. In May 1977, Desai was presented a memorandum that sought the withdrawal of four history books — of which three were intended for use in teaching — from public circulation. The books in question were — Medieval India by Romila Thapar, Modern India by Bipan Chandra, Freedom Struggle by A. Tripathi, Barun De and Bipan Chandra, and Communalism and the Writing of Indian History by Romila Thapar, Harbans Mukhia and Bipan Chandra. The memorandum criticised these works above all for not condemning forcefully enough certain Muslim rulers — including Aurangzeb — and emphasising that freedom struggle leaders such as Bal Gangadhar Tilak and Aurobindo were partly responsible for the antagonism between Hindus and Muslims. The RSS campaigned separately for the withdrawal of these textbooks (Organiser, July 23, 1978). The attempt failed because sections within the Janata Party opposed the demands in the memorandum.
However, the BJP succeeded in changing parts of textbooks in the state they formed a government in the 1990s. After BJP leader Keshubhai Patel took over as the chief minister in 1995, the Gujarat State Board of School Textbooks published a Class IX Social Studies textbook in which Muslims, Christians, and Parsis were presented as “foreigners”. It was also written that “in most of the states, the Hindus are a minority and the Muslims, Christians, and Sikhs are in a majority”. A Class VIII Social Studies textbook also included a highly derogatory description of Christian priests: “The accumulation of power and wealth in the hands of the priests resulted in a perversion of the religion. Some of the priests became pleasure-loving and badly behaved.”
In the early 2000s, another Social Science textbook for Class X described Adolf Hitler in the following terms: “Hitler lent dignity and prestige to the German government within a short time by establishing a strong administrative setup. He created the vast state of Greater Germany. He adopted the policy of opposition towards the Jewish people and advocated the supremacy of the German race.”
Former Mumbai Police commissioner and now a politician, Satyapal Singh always wanted to become a scientist before he joined the IPS in 1980 and got Maharashtra cadre. After a long time, his hidden ambition to be a scientist hit the headlines condemning Charles Darwin theory. The next day all the scientists over-reacted to the personal opinion of a politician, over-reaction gave unnecessary credibility to a view. As a matter of fact, many schools managed by conservative religious authorities even in the US were teaching the Biblical theory of creation in preference to Darwin. Charles Darwin’s Theory of Evolution is been challenged time and again, but this time it was by a politician who wanted to be a scientist.
Singh was factually wrong in saying that the scientific community has rejected the evolutionary principle. Besides so much of hullabaloo, Satyapal Singh still stood by his statement and not only that he is hell-bent on proving Darwin’s theory a myth.
Be it, but what is surprising to me is the attitude of right-wingers. President Ram Nath Kovind drew a similarity between A.P.J. Abdul Kalam and Narendra Modi, saying while the former President was a “space scientist”, the Prime Minister is a “social scientist”. Junior Education Minister Satyapal Singh’s statement questioning the evolutionary theory of Charles Darwin has been sharply criticised by the influential voices from the scientific community, including a former president of INSA (the Indian National Science Academy), the top body of scientists in the country. But no one objected to Kovind for the comparison that he made.
Minister Satyapal Singh has said that Darwin’s theory was “scientifically wrong” since there are no witnesses to humans evolving from apes and it should be removed from science books. The minister is right. Opposition to Darwin theory has come up in the USA decades ago. Thousands of new molecules are invented every year in the US. Even Charles Darwin thought his own theory was “grievously hypothetical” and gave emotional content to his doubts when he said, “The eye to this day gives me a cold shudder.” To think the eye had evolved by natural selection, Darwin said, “Seems, I freely confess, absurd in the highest possible degree”. But he thought of the same about something as simple as a peacock’s feather, which, he said, “Makes me sick”. Of course, anyone who has knowledge of the intricacies of the human eye and other living structures immediately realises the problem that Darwin sensed. How could an organ of such an intricate magnificence ever have originated via random chance?
The observation that no religious or historical account ever mentions that man was evolved from ape is not non-scientific and is a valid point. All religions unanimously accept that all mankind came from one man and woman and not evolved from monkeys. A very recent theory even proposes that Mankind is aliens to earth and not a result of earthly evolution. Top scientists would do their job better if they keep an open mind.
The controversy is yet to settle with Satyapal Singh, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh chief Mohan Bhagwat said India has forgotten all enmity against Pakistan but same is not the case with the neighbouring country. Bhagwat said all ancient civilisation such as Mahenjodaro, Harappa and our culture developed in places which are now in Pakistan. “Why didn’t Pakistan tell (India) to take another name since everything of ‘Bharat’ has emerged from here. So we are ‘Bharat’ and you take any other name. They did not say this and rather wanted to separate from the name ‘Bharat’. Because they know that with the name ‘Bharat’, Hindutva comes in. And Hindutva is there, so is ‘Bharat’.
There is a lot more to talk about BJP and its changing behaviour, but we never imagined that one of the leaders of the party will change the science too.
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