Last week’s Indian Science Congress started off pretty well with an inauguration by Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself. Nonetheless, the conference’s festivals took a number of sudden turns after talkers compiled quirky demands mixing Hindu mythology and discipline, as well as rejecting the findings of Albert Einstein and Isaac Newton.
G Nageshwar Rao, the Vice Chancellor of Andhra University, invoked an ancient story as evidence that stem cell research was used in India thousands of years ago, AFP news agency reports. In special, he quoth the story of the Kauravas, the 100 acclaimed sons of the King of Hastinapur, Dhritarashtra, and his wife Gandhari.
“Everybody wonders and nothing believes, how come Gandhari handed delivery to 100 children. How is it humanly probable? Can a woman give birth to 100 children in one life-time, ” he posed to the stumped gathering, according to the Press Trust of India.
“But now we believe we have test-tube newborns … 100 eggs were fertilized and put into 100 earthen bowls. Are they not test-tube newborns? Stem cell study in its own country was present thousands of years ago. Today, you are talking about stem cell research.”
“We had hundreds of Kauravas from one baby because of stem cell research and test tube newborn engineering. It happened a few thousand years ago. This was science in its own country, ” he added.
Not exactly peer-reviewed stuff, here.
He went on to talk about the ancient Indian epic poem of Ramayana and claimed that Ravan, the story’s protagonist, worked 24 different types of aircraft and airstrips in Sri Lanka to rescue his wife Sita from the demon king Ravana.
Another university lecturer from south Tamil Nadu state shed shade at the greats of Western science, Einstein and Newton. According to BBC News, Dr KJ Krishnan suggested Newton failed to “understand gravitational repulsive forces” and said gravitational ripples should be renamed “Narendra Modi Waves”, after India’s prime minister.
Needless to say, the lion’s share of Indian scientists appear to be reasonably embarrassed by the comments. The Science Congress Association was immediate to dismiss the off-the-wall theories from its orators, saying: “We don’t subscribe to their views and distance ourselves from their comments. This is unfortunate.”
The Principal Scientific Adviser to the Government of India, K VijayRaghavan, described the speakers’ observations as “completely untenable”. Writing in a blog affix, he explained how the notes were a testament to the wider problem of “pseudoscience” registering the mainstream debate in India.
After all, this is not the first time an Indian official has blurted out unscientific statements about the country’s technological prowess. Just last year, India’s chief minister of Tripura claimed that the Internet and satellite communications were invented in ancient India.