Unevolved minister, a Hindutva minstrel

Unevolved minister, a Hindutva minstrel

Union Minister of State for Human Resource Development Satyapal Singh's recent statement that Charles Darwin's Theory of Evolution of species is "scientifically wrong" because "nobody ever saw an ape turning into a human" could have been laughed off as the product of an irrational mind were it not for the
fact that he is the junior minister in the very ministry that is responsible for imparting learning and cultivating a scientific temperament in India's children. The minister is not illiterate; he holds a post-graduate degree in chemistry from Delhi University, among other qualifications, and was an IPS officer before he entered politics. His observation that nobody had seen a monkey turn into a man reveals not only the extent of his ignorance but also his failure to imbibe scientific reasoning in the course of his studies. Evolution isn't like making instant coffee; it is a process that occurred over millions of years. Minute changes in living beings happen gradually and over a very long time period, not with a snap of the fingers. The minister has not grasped this fundamental fact of the history of living organisms. Singh has suggested that the theory of evolution should be removed from school and college curricula. In a country where education is already of a poor quality, with children learning little in schools, heeding Singh's suggestion would be disastrous, even dangerous. His boss in the HRD ministry, Prakash Javadekar, has done well to tell him to pipe down.

Singh's statement should not be seen in isolation. This is not an off-the-cuff remark that he made, but a product of the mentality of rewriting history and science to fit 'Hindutva', the BJP and Sangh Parivar's ideology. It is the latest of several salvos fired in the BJP government's war against science and rational thinking. Singh is not alone in selling illogical ideas as facts. Early in his tenure as prime minister, Narendra Modi claimed that Ganesha became the elephant-headed god by plastic surgery in ancient India. In effect, the prime minister peddled mythology as scientific prowess. Under the BJP, the Indian Science Congress has been reduced to an annual circus where myth masquerades as science.

Developing a scientific temper was among the goals of India's founding fathers in establishing a modern, secular democracy. Indeed, the Constitution describes developing a scientific temper as the duty of every Indian citizen. It is time the BJP distanced itself from superstitions, myths and fables. Funds needed for modern scientific research are being wasted on projects to project cow's urine as the panacea for all diseases. The party which claims to be the flag-bearer of national pride has made India a laughing stock in the eyes of the world.

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