BJP and Science: From Ganesha’s plastic surgery to ‘Yoga can cure cancer’

“Some people wear rings of particular gemstones for improving luck and life. But if you wear a wrong (‘manik’) gemstone then it causes trouble. So Tripura had a wrong Manik (CM), time to take it off and wear a HIRA (diamond). H-Highways, I-Iways, R-Railways, A-Airways”, said Prime Minister Narendra Modi at a rally in Agartala on February 8.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s love for acronyms is well known, but less discussed is his penchant for often alluding to the mythological and the obscure. This latest assertion that gemstones bring good fortune has little basis in science.

In fact, not just PM Modi but many prominent members of his party who hold significant positions have made a slew of statements seeking to emphasise the supremacy of ancient India in the realm of science and technology. In doing so, they have made statements ranging from plain inaccurate to downright bizarre.

Alt News has put together a compilation of all such statements and tweets that have emanated from the political establishment.

1. Lord Ganesha’s elephant head must have been due to plastic surgery

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had, while referring to Hindu mythology had said that he believes that Lord Ganesha was the first ever example of plastic surgery.

PM Modi has repeated this assertion more than once. Apart from the instance posted above, he also referred to it when he addressed a gathering of medical professionals in Mumbai in October 2014.

2. Karna was born due to genetic engineering

Karna, a character of the epic ‘Mahabharata’ was born due to genetic engineering, according to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

“Those who have read or heard the Mahabharata, I would like to draw their attention to the epic. And according to my modest understanding, I believe that Karna’s birth was due to stem cell technology, due to science”(translated), said Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

3. Darwin was wrong, no one saw ape turning into man

Minister of State for HRD Satyapal Singh caused an uproar and much amusement by asserting that Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution is scientifically wrong because no one saw an ape turning into a man.

Singh’s statement was splashed across the world and was much ridiculed. The minister however did not see the contradiction between his statement and his later assertion that he is a man of science. He stuck to his statement.

4. “Teach IIT students about Pushpak Viman”

MoS HRD Satyapal Singh, before he made the infamous Darwin comment, had in September 2017 said that students in premier engineering institutes like IITs must be taught about ancient Indian discoveries and inventions such as Pushpak Viman, which is mentioned in the Ramayana.

Singh had also said that before the Wright brothers supposedly invented the aeroplane, an Indian named Shivakar Talpade had invented it eight years before the Wright brothers. “Why are students not taught that before the Wright brothers, an Indian called Shivakar Babuji Talpade was the first to invent the airplane. This person invented the plane eight years before the Wright brothers. Are our students taught these things in IITs or not? They should be”. The Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru had published a study and concluded that most of the theories put forward by Vaimanika Shastra on the basis of which Talpade supposedly built the aircraft were unfeasible.

5. Yoga can cure cancer

Minister of State for AYUSH Shripad Naik in 2016 said that the practice of Yoga can cure major diseases including cancer. He added that the Government could come out with scientific evidence of it in a year.

“It is a proven fact. We have visited the Bengaluru-based Swami Vivekananda Yoga Anusandhana Samsthana (S-VYASA) institute, where many people told us they have been cured of cancer by regular practice of yoga. The institute has found a technique of yoga for the prevention and cure of cancer”, Naik had said. More than a year has elapsed but the Government or Naik are yet to come out with ‘evidence’ of the efficacy of Yoga in curing cancer.

6. India conducted nuclear test lakhs of years ago

According to BJP MP from Hardwar and former Uttarakhand CM Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank, India was never a stranger to nuclear technology. In fact, a sage had conducted a nuclear test lakhs of years ago.

Participating in a debate in Lok Sabha, Nishank had reportedly said, “Today we are talking about nuclear tests. Lakhs of years ago, Sage Kanad had conducted a nuclear test. Our knowledge and science do not lack anything”. He had also defended PM Modi’s remark on Lord Ganesha and plastic surgery, saying “People are raising questions on Modiji’s comments on Ganesh’s surgery. It was actually a surgery. The science available to us is not available elsewhere in the world… science or knowledge to transplant a severed head existed only in India”.

7. Cow only animal which inhales and exhales oxygen

Rajasthan Education and Panchayati Raj Minister Vasudev Devnani came up with an ingenious theory to explain the ‘scientific significance of the cow’. According to Devnani, cow is the only animal that inhales and exhales oxygen. He had also reportedly said that ailments like cold and cough can be healed by going near a cow.

8. Ancient India discovered law of gravity

Devnani was guilty once again when he recently made a statement saying that Issac Newton had not discovered the law of gravity. It was in fact discovered by the Indian scientist Brahmagupta II one thousand years before Newton.

“Three-four days ago, I was reading about who discovered the law of gravitation. It was mentioned that Newton did it. I have read it, you have too. But if you go deeper, you would know Brahmagupta II had given this law of gravitation 1000 years prior to that. Why don’t we connect that? The mechanism was developed later. Modern scientists have done it”, Devnani had reportedly said.

9. Yogic farming can help boost agriculture

Union Minister of Agriculture Radha Mohan Singh had said that soil fertility can be boosted and ‘seeds can be empowered’ by adopting ‘yogic farming’.

“The idea behind Yogic farming is to empower the seeds with the help of positive thinking. We should enhance the potency of seeds by rays of Parmatma Shakti”, Singh had said in September 2015. When asked if yogic farming is a scientific method, Singh said “We are supporting organic farming and, along with it, the idea of Rajyog. Such exercise is accepted by my ministry essentially to enhance Indian farmers’ confidence. Indian farmers have, over the years, lost confidence in the age-tested knowledge of farming”.

10. Diseases like cancer due to sins committed in last lives

Assam Health Minister and senior BJP leader Himanta Biswa Sarma that people suffered from life-threatening diseases such as cancer because of sins they had committed in previous births.

According to Sarma, the occurence of such diseases is ‘divine justice’ meted out to those who had sinned in their past life. Sarma later apologised for his comment but his clarification too was laced with reiteration of his belief in karma and reincarnation.

The founding fathers of our nation envisaged a society and country based on rational principles through inculcation of scientific temper and thinking. Considering the statements that have emanated from prominent BJP members and office bearers time and again, it would seem that the objective of encouraging scientific and rational spirit is far from being realised. ‘To develop scientific temper, humanism and the spirit of inquiry and reform’ is one of the fundamental duties prescribed in the Constitution. The Government which is mandated to cultivate the spread of scientific culture is instead seemingly inclined in favour of the obscure, the superstitious and the pseudo-scientific. No less than the Prime Minister has given credence to this tendency, positing mythology as science and in the process, sacrificing it at the altar of politics.

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