Why the Indian Scientific Community is to Blame for the Lack of Science at the 102nd Indian Science Congress

08 January 2015
An illustration of a Shakuna Vimana, one of the flying vehicles mentioned in Vyamanika Shastra, which was cited at the 102nd Indian Science Congress.
Courtesy: Wikipedia
An illustration of a Shakuna Vimana, one of the flying vehicles mentioned in Vyamanika Shastra, which was cited at the 102nd Indian Science Congress.
Courtesy: Wikipedia

Amidst the noise that has surrounded the 102nd Indian Science Congress, with assertions and counter-assertions flying back and forth about our ancient heritage, it seems to have escaped our attention that the Indian scientific community has shown a complete lack of spine when faced with the manipulation of the truth by the proponents of Hindutva.

The media focus, by and large, has been on a few absurd papers presented at the Congress. What no one seems to be asking is how such papers were accepted and presented despite a screening process in place. Why have the office bearers of the Indian Science Congress failed to speak out against this mockery of the idea of science?

Consider the paper that has attracted the most attention—Ancient Indian Aviation Technology—presented by Capt Anand J Bodas, a pilot, and Ameya Jadhav, a lecturer. It was part of the symposium “Ancient Sciences through Sanskrit.” The excessive media limelight on this particular paper was not out of some perverse desire to denigrate the conference, it was because the organisers of the Indian Science Congress and the political class had sought this focus. It was the only session on January 4 which was attended and addressed by a Union Minister, in this case Prakash Javadekar, Union Minister for Environment, Forests and Climate Change. He did so even as Nobel Laureate Ada E Yonath (Chemistry 2009) from the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel, addressed the undoubtedly less significant issue of "Ribosomes, Resistance to Antibiotics and Origin of Life" at the plenary session that was underway at the same time.

Hartosh Singh Bal is the political editor at The Caravan.

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