A series of incidents in the recent past of Bharat question the integrity and transparency of our scientific community who are self-proclaimed torch bearers of tolerance, secularism and scientific temper.
The International Conference on ‘Decolonising Our Universities’ held in June 2011 at Penang, Malaysia, highlighted the harm done to universities outside the West by “the tutelage and tyranny of Western institutions.” They concluded that “We are firmly convinced that every trace of Eurocentrism in our universities – reflected in various insidious forms of western controls over publications, theories, and models of research must be subordinated to our scintillating cultural and intellectual traditions.” Cultural critic Professor Edward Said pointed out that ideas of barbarism, primitivism and tribalism were developed by west. In fact Said was one among few scholars who pointed out the trauma faced by orientalism due to cultural invasion by the west. Noted sociologist JPS Uberoi attributed various aspects of western dominance over science. Recently in Bharat, the most effective way to counter the rising allegations of eurocentrism and also euromarxism in science was the counter allegation of ‘saffronisation’.
At the Indian Science Congress from January 3-7 2016, in the University of Mysore people witnessed allegations of saffronisation in Bharateeya science. Bharateeya-born Nobel laureate Venkatraman Ramakrishnan commented that Indian Science Congress served little purpose and it was a “circus where very little science was discussed”. Director of BM Birla Science Centre, Hyderabad, BG Sidharth, called the congress a 'Kumbh Mela of science' where the entire focus was on the Prime Minister's visit. Last year at the science congress in Maharashtra, the prime minister’s reference to Ganesa in his inaugural speech was blown out of proportion and was equated with fascism and saffronisation by left and secular lobbies.
Saffronisation was later contextualised with growing intolerance in the country by a group of scientists with strong ideological leanings and sectarian inclinations. PM Bhargava, founder director of Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology returned his Padma Bhushan award last year protesting ‘intolerance’ in the country. Talking to Hindustan Times on October 29, 2015, Bhargava, called for a ban on the RSS alleging that it is against minorities. It became clear that it was not perceptions on science that triggered a debate, but it was absolute animosity towards RSS that infuriated a group of scientists such as Bhargava.
Princeton mathematician Manjul Bhargava, who is the first person of Bharateeya origin to win Fields Medal, Nobel said, a lot of positives came out of the science congress. He said the purpose of the science congress is to interact with scientists from across the country, and explore common areas of interest provided by the congress. Eminent space scientist G Madhavan Nair disapproved move by scientists to return their awards alleging ‘growing intolerance’ in the country, and dubbed their action as nothing more than theatrics.’
G Padmanabhan former director, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore observed that in growing intolerance debate -selective outrage is proving dangerous. Terror attacks in Bharat are fallout of the same jihadist movement. In such a case the intellectuals would assume a lofty position that a terrorist has no religion, but if a Hindu group is implicated, no time is lost in labelling it Hindu terrorism, Padmanabhan added.
Earlier, Indian History Congress held in 2014 at JNU, passed a resolution to oppose efforts to project myths as part of Bharateeya science and establish them as history. Mainstream historical books on classical Bharat by leftists such as DN Jha’s Ancient India, or Romila Thapar’s Penguin History of Early India are totally silent on Bharateeya scientific achievements. After Aryabhatta, Varahamihira, Brahmagupta and Bhaskaracharya, there were many towering personalities in Bharat in mathematics and medicine. They include Vateswara, Manjula, Aryabhata II, Sripati, Satananda, Mahavira, Sridhara, Narayana Pandita, Madhava and Chakrapani Datta. The Nataraja statue, symbolising Shiva's cosmic dance of evolution and dissolution, was given in 2004 to CERN, the European Center for Research in Particle Physics in Geneva by the Government of Bharat.
There are serious allegations that in the science congress at Mysore, Shiva was highlighted as protector of ecology. There are numerous epithets in Satarudriya of the Taittiriya Samhita in Yajurveda which refers to Rudra as preserver of various forms of environment. But those who accuse saffronisation have conveniently hidden another fact. The Little flower church and St. George’s church under Roman Catholic diocese are running huge quarries in Western Ghat region of Kozhikkode district in Kerala. The report of the Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel (WGEEP), headed by Professor Madhav Gadgil was vehemently opposed by Syro Malabar Catholic church.Those who charge that science congress being saffronised using name of Shiva are supporting the destruction of western Ghats region by the Catholic church. The duplicity and hypocrisy of secular scientific community in Bharat is evident in many contexts which deserved their intervention. They maintained a silent attitude when a scientist from New Delhi was killed and at least five persons were injured when intruders opened fire and lobbed grenades at the Indian Institute of Science on December 28, 2005. Police have not ruled out the involvement of the Pakistan-based terror outfit Lashkar-e-Taiba.
In November 2007 Taslima Nasreen was forced to quit Kolkata after fatwas were issued against her by Islamic outfits and Left government refused her protection. The 2010 assault in Kerala occurred on July 4 when TJ Joseph, a professor at Newman College had his hand cut off at the wrist as punishment on allegation of blasphemy, by people belonging to Popular Front of India, a Muslim fundamentalist organisation. Historians Sridhara Menon and Amalendu De were threatened by left cadres for refusing to toe party line. The scientific community did not feel any intolerance since Kerala and West Bengal were ruled by Marxist governments who were their patrons.
Rationalist association president Sanal Edamaruku questioned a miracle in a church at Mumbai. On April 2012 Catholic Church filed complaints against Sanal Edamaruku in various police stations, chased and threatened him. On July 31, 2012, Edamaruku left Bharat and settled in Finland. The scientific community in Bharat did not even pass a resolution condemning this inhuman act since the central government catered the needs of their political outfits. Similarly we witnessed apathy from these secular groups when various Catholic Church organisations in Mumbai demanded ban on the play Agnes of God, directed by Kaizaad Kotwal. In October 2015, Kotwal sought protection at Marine Drive police station.
The integrity and transparency of Bharat’s scientific community who are self proclaimed torch bearers of tolerance and secularism can be understood from an event associated with late Dr APJ Abdul Kalam. Dr Kalam, the President of Bharat first suggested in 2006 the idea of reviving Nalanda’s past glory as an ancient University. Later, Dr Kalam wrote to former foreign minister SM Krishna that he was upset the way it was mishandled under left fellow traveller Amartya Sen.
Dr BS Hari Shankar (The writer is a senior Archaeological Researcher)