India is paying for our leaders’ unscientific mindsets

Justice Markandey Katju-

Justice Markandey Katju

Justice Markandey Katju is a former Judge, Supreme Court of India, and former Chairman, Press Council of India. The views expressed are his own.

I recently came across this article by a Professor of Physics and Astro Physics at Delhi University :

India had once been the leader of the world in science, which enabled it to have almost 30% of the world’s GDP ( down to 2 or 3% today ), and was known as a ‘sone ki chidiya’ ( golden bird ).

With the aid of science, we had built mighty civilizations thousands of years ago when most people in the world ( except in Greece and Rome ) were living in forests. However, we subsequently took to the unscientific path of superstitions and empty rituals which has led us to disaster. The way out therefore is to go back again to the scientific path shown by our ancestors, the path of Aryabhatta and Brahmagupta, Sushrut and Charak, Panini and Patanjail, Ramanujan and Raman.

Science is the only means of solving our country’s massive problems. And by science, I do not mean physics, chemistry and biology alone. I mean the entire scientific outlook, which means developing a rational and questioning attitude, which must be spread widely among our masses, who are unfortunately still steeped in superstitious thinking like belief in astrology and feudal practices, like casteism and communalism.

The policy of our British rulers was to keep India feudal and backward, largely ‘hewers of wood and drawers of water’. They did not permit us to set up heavy industries, fearing that if India gets industrialized it would become a big rival to British industry.

However, after Independence in 1947 under the leadership of Prime Minister Nehru, who was a modern-minded person, we achieved a limited degree of industrialization, setting up some heavy industries and several engineering colleges, with the result that today we have a huge pool of technical talent ( our IT engineers are largely manning Silicon Valley in California, and there are many Indian Professors in Science, Engineering and Mathematics in American Universities ).

With this huge pool of engineers and scientists, we could easily transform India into a highly developed and industrialized giant, like another China. The tragedy, however, is that today India has fallen into the clutches of reactionary, unscientific leaders, who have reversed the path shown by Nehru and are taking the country back into the Middle Ages.

We have a Prime Minister who made the ridiculous claim that ancient India had discovered head transplants and genetic engineering.

Following the Prime Minister’s cue, ‘scientists’ attending the Indian Science Congress have made equally ridiculous claims ( like the racial ‘scientists’ in the Nazi era )

Many Ministers have also followed the cue.

It is true that ancient Indians had invented the decimal system in mathematics and plastic surgery. But absurd and false claims are made that Yoga can cure cancer, ancient Indians had conducted nuclear tests and invented aeroplanes a million years ago, and had discovered the law of gravity long before Newton and Einstein, Internet was used by Indians during the Mahabharat era, that cows are the only animals which exhale oxygen and cow urine can cure several diseases ( including covid ), yogic farming ( whatever that may mean ) can increase agricultural production, etc.

A veritable assault is being made on science and rationality in India under its current leadership

An era of darkness has dawned in India. We have entered into an Age of Unreason, like Germany in 1933. Now we have to pay the price for following the Pied Piper.