The debate over inculcating scientific temper in India by saffron brigade

New Delhi(dna): Section V of our Constitution, Article 51A on ‘Fundamental Duties’ begins by saying: “It shall be the duty of every citizen of India…”. In the enumeration of such duties, sub-clause (h) says: “To develop the scientific temper, humanism and the spirit of inquiry and reform”.

The ‘Hindutva Brigade’ is working in complete contradistinction of this constitutional directive. What happened at the 102nd Indian Science Congress held at Mumbai in a special session called ‘Vedic science through Sanskrit’ surpasses even the surreal. That the Indian Science Congress which annually discusses the achievements of Indian science so far, finding ways to overcome shortcomings and define the future direction, should be the platform to propagate such ‘unscientific temper’ is obnoxious.

Of course, there were many landmark scientific achievements in Indian history. The advances in astronomy and mathematics were, indeed, path breaking. Modern science would have been impossible but for the invention of the zero, not merely as a tool for accounting in which many other ancient civilisations preceded us in usage, but as a concept whose opposite is the infinite. This gave birth to negative numbers, irrational numbers, quadratic equations, mathematical constants etc.

If we were to take the Hindutva brigade’s claims today as real, they would also have to explain why, in spite of such scientific accomplishments in the ancient past, various kingdoms in these lands, could not resist, indeed stop, periodic invasions, the establishment of empires leading to the colonisation of India. Often the Hindutva Brigade accuses the Marxist historians (apart from the colonial and liberal scholars) of discounting or debunking the ‘glory of the ancient Hindu civilisation’ which they want to restore today.

Rewriting history, through the spread of ‘unscientific temper’, to glorify and establish as Golwalkar propagated — the uninterrupted glory of the Hindu civilisation in these lands since ancient times — requires that the modern secular democratic republic of India be transformed into the RSS project of a rabidly intolerant fascistic ‘Hindu Rashtra’.

The realisation of this project has to resisted and defeated if India, as we know today, has to be preserved and, on this basis, developed to attain great heights as a people and a country.

—People’s Democracy

Recently concluded Indian Science Congress in Mumbai had a session dedicated to contributions of India to Science and Technology. It is for the first time that India officially acknowledged her invaluable contributions in generating and distributing knowledge. It is unfortunate that the discussions in the session generated controversies among scientists and technologists. This event shows that even after more than six decades of Independence, we have not yet regained our self esteem which was lost during the 19th century when the British were trying to enslave India. The speech by Lord Macaulay in the British Parliament on February 2, 1835, says it all. “I have travelled across the length and breadth of India and I have not seen a person who is a beggar, who is a thief. Such wealth I have seen in this country, such high moral values, people of such calibre, that I do not think we could ever conquer this country, unless we break the very backbone of this nation, which is her spiritual and cultural heritage and therefore, I propose that we replace her old and ancient system, her culture, for if Indians think that all that is foreign and English is superior and better than their own, they will lose their self esteem and they will become what we want them, a truly dominated nation.”