When Science was Debunked and Myth Elevated

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Science is an intellectual and systematic study based on observation and experimentation. The knowledge generated by science has made living on this planet happy, easy and successful. Good science is a comprehensive and exciting way of discovering the hidden secret of physical, chemical and biological world. Every day or moment holds possibility of a new discovery and words like “Eureka eureka” are still in the nature of a valid, euphoric excitement among the scientists.
Scientific discoveries are based on facts and evidences and not on myths or folklore beliefs. As man progressed in science myths and mythological concepts started losing salience in human minds and thinking. However, the scenario was quite different this time in Jalandhar’s Lovely Professional University which held the 106th session of Indian Science Congress from 3rd to 7th January, 2019 with the theme: Future India: Science and Technology.
Pertinently, the Indian Science Congress is an annual event for children, women and men to share and listen to the scientific deliberations and discoveries made in the field of science and technology in India. The Congress is always inaugurated by the Prime Minister of India and addresses the gathering which includes even the Nobel laureates drawn from different countries of the world. The event is organised under the auspices of Indian science congress association which is a huge body of scientists and students created for the welfare of Science in India.
This year’s event took an ugly turn when some unscientific claims made by few speakers send shock waves across the Indian scientific community and the media. For example, Kauravas borne of a single mother (from the mythological epic-the Mahabharata) were test tube babies indicating presence of stem cell technology before thousands of years in India. These were the statements made by Vice Chancellor (professor of Inorganic Chemistry) of a reputed Indian University. Similarly, the remarks that Ravana (from Ramayana) had 24 types of aircrafts, and Lanka had airports during Vedic times are shameful. The other speaker went to another extreme and emphasized that Theories of Newton and Einstein were wrong, naming some gravitational waves as Modi waves are shocking and annoying too. These pseudo-scientific claims have tarnished the image of Indian science and a wave of displeasure will soon spread throughout the world. The remarks that Lanka had air ports indicated that aircraft technology was already known in India before the Wright brothers discovered the first flying machine. Shockingly they even criticized and disapproved Newton’s and Einstein’s theories of physics which revolutionized science worldwide. The speaker took enough of the courage when he decided to name some specific gravitational waves as Narendra Modi Waves. Further extra shock was added to the speech that Harsh Vardhan effect should be the name for gravitational lensing effect – one of the significant concepts of physics. The conscious scientific community shall definitely respond to such remarks by showing displeasure and anguish against the backdrop of these statements.
Overall, these statements made at a scientific gathering indicates that some hard core scientific people in India still give much importance to religious or folklore beliefs and little importance is given to science at a platform which is in fact meant for discussions over science. Why should it be allowed to become a platform for mythological statements justifying scientific claims? The Indian Science Congress Association must ponder upon it and take necessary action. W hen it is the gathering of the country’s reputed scientific minds but mythological remarks being made to flourish at such events is quite unfortunate and a state of mourning for people associated with science. The irony is that these speakers made the mythological remarks before the house of children. What type of impact that is going to have on the minds and thoughts of these budding scientists? Do they want to push them back to the myths of Ramayana and Mahabharata and deprive them from developing the passion and zeal of science at a time when science and technology have already revolutionized life on this planet.
The remarks made by scientists at a scientific event certainly challenge the referee and peer reviewing processes of the submitted papers and talks for the event. It shows the callous and non-serious attitude of the people associated with organizing the event. The organizers failed to check the scientific matter and content in papers and talks submitted for the scientific deliberations. One can surely ask questions to the organizers for having failed to boast this scientific event by allowing the folklore and mythological statements to be made before the gathering of scientists, professors and teachers.. We can’t deny or challenge the contribution of Indian science that has been responsible for some breakthrough research in the field of natural sciences and mathematics but it is shameful that such remarks have been made by the professors or scientists themselves. A conscious community will definitely mourn such remarks coming from the brains of country’s inorganic chemist or a physicist. It is the right time that science congress must be made a fool proof event where the submitted papers and talks are duly scrutinized by a peer review process to sieve the junk and mythic remarks of jokers and pseudo scientists.

—The author is an Assistant Professor of Zoology at the Islamia College of Science and Commerce, Srinagar. He owns the above view points as his personal opinions and not of the institution he works for. He can be reached at: drkatariq@gmail.com