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India not so scientific as it claims to be

OPINION-29

Indian constitution is a unique constitution, and according to it, it is a fundamental duty, the eighth one, of every citizen in India “to develop a scientific temper, humanism, and the spirit of inquiry and reform” (Article 51 A of the Indian Constitution).

But, it appears that even after seven decades of independence, Indians are still mired in superstition. The world was stunned to see the televised appearance of India’s defense minister Rajnath Singh emblazoning a Rafale fighter jet with an ‘om’ and decking it with flowers, coconut, and lemons, purportedly to ward off evil.

Singh’s overt show of religiosity caricatured the provision of India’s Constitution mandating the duty of inculcating a “scientific temper”.

Cow slaughter threatens national security

Liberals were stunned when chief minister Yogi Adityanath of India’s Uttar Pradesh state equated cows with human beings. India’s Uttarakhand assembly passed a resolution for “declaration of the cow as rashtra mata, national mother.”

Muslims and dalits run cow slaughter and small-scale beef trade. To persecute them and to deprive the beef-eating minority of a cheap source of food, Uttar Pradesh Hindu-monk chief minister Adityanath launched a crackdown on them in June 2020.

He directed his administration to book the “offenders” under India’s National Security Act. Simultaneously, he approved an ordinance to increase the penalty for cow slaughter up to 10 years imprisonment and a fine up to Rs 5 lakh.

In October, even the Allahabad High Court expressed ennui at the “frequent misuse” of provisions of the Uttar Pradesh Cow Slaughter Act, 1955, and noted that it was being used to implicate innocent people. Adityanath adamantly responded that his government will “protect cows at any cost” as if the cow was a citizen.

The furious yogi ordered cow-related offenses should be tried under the National Security Act. The sycophant police registered 139 cases against innocent people under the NSA between January 2018 and December 2020. But, the court turned down most of the cases for “non-application of mind.”

Besides cow-related NSA cases, during the last year 2020, until August 26, a total of 1,716 cases were registered under the Uttar Pradesh Prevention of Cow Slaughter Act and over 4,000 people were arrested.

The NSA was legislated to detain a person without a charge for up to 12 months if he or she was a threat to national security or law and order.

Constitutional “humanism” in action

The Yogi wants to convert Ayodhya into a Vatican, a Mecca. He wants to re-name Mughal Museum in Agra after Maratha king Chhatrapati Shivaji. He rubbished opposition’s and jat priests admonitions. He rejected a proposal to build both a mosque and a temple at Ayodhya side by side.

He refused to attend the inauguration of a mosque away from Ayodhya in exchange for the demolished Babri masjid. The Hindu Supreme Court validated the demolition of the Babri masjid.

The Supreme Court judge Ranjan Gogoi was inducted, shortly after his retirement, as a member of the Rajya Sabha (council of states) as quid pro quo for his pro-government decisions including one abolition of Kashmir’s special status. The serving SC judges rejected a petition for inquiry into Gogois’ in-service conduct.

The National Crime Records Bureau omitted data on murders; burning Muslims alive, cow-related lynching, and offenses committed for a religious reason. NCRB leaves out data on lynchings, khap, and religious killings. Hindus believe that Lord Krishna took along a cow from the heavens when he descended on earth.

Pakistani “spy” pigeon

According to India Today, a black-and-white-feathered pigeon was caught on April 17 after it perched on the shoulder of Constable Niraj Kumar, who was on guard duty at a post in Roranwala, 500 meters from the border with Pakistan.

Kumar “immediately caught the pigeon and informed Post Commander Ompal Singh”. The commander then searched the pigeon and found a paper with a number starting from 0302.

The BSF directed police to lodge a first information report (FIR) against the pigeon. The BSF could not decode the mysterious number, wrapped with adhesive tape on the pigeon’s left leg.

Senior Superintendent of Police Dhruv Dahiya replied to the BSF that “he did not think FIR could be registered against the pigeon as it was a bird, not a human being”.  However, he clarified, ‘We have referred the matter to our legal experts for their opinion’.

Last year, in May, BSF had captured another “Pakistani spy pigeon” and handed it over to police in occupied Kashmir. A Pakistani villager later said he was the owner of the pigeon and refuted the allegation of it being “a spy or a terrorist”.

Earlier, in 2015, also, a pigeon was captured by Indian forces for crossing the Indo-Pak border into India’s Pathankot area.

Other hijinks of the “scientific temper” in India

Last month, authorities in Indian-occupied Kashmir seized a plane-shaped balloon bearing the name of Pakistan International Airlines (PIA). The balloon featuring the name, logo, and livery colors of the national flag carrier was found in Sotra Chak village of the Hiranagar sector.

It was initially spotted by locals in the village who informed the police. Authorities then seized the balloon and the matter was entrusted to police for investigation. 

Justice Mahesh Chandra Sharma of Rajasthan High Court flabbergasted reporters by saying, “all doctors are frauds and we could have all been cured of diseases with nothing more than cow’s milk.”

He “urged the Centre to declare cow as India’s national animal and recommended life imprisonment for cow slaughter”. Physicians must have smiled at his assertion that “cow inhales and exhales oxygen”, and “a peacock is a lifelong celibate like Krishna”.

At the conclave, a Muslim wing of the RSS distributed a pamphlet echoing Sharma’s sentiments. The RSS’s rising influence among all strata of Indian society cannot be ignored.

Huffington Post dated August 3, 2017, published a detailed report on the benefits of cow-and-dung recipes.

These recipes included (a) A cow-dung-and-urine beauty soap that could stall aging. Krishna looked like a 12-year-old as he used such soap. (b) Cow dung and urine (gao mutra and gau gober) could prevent radiation when used to construct a bunker or rubbed on a mobile phone. This compound can defuse even an atomic bomb. (c) Pregnant women should have cow dung-urine derivatives for normal delivery.

India’s prestigious Institute of Technology received about 50 proposals from top research institutions across the country to explore the benefits of panchgavya (mixture of cow urine, cow dung, milk, ghee, and curd).

India’s Union Ministry of Science and Technology has constituted a 19-member panel to conduct detailed research on cow derivatives and their benefits. Actor Akshay Kumar remorselessly admitted that he drinks cow urine daily. Cow dung is also used in Hindu religious fire (agni) yajna as an important ingredient.

Nehru’s dream tarnished

India’s first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru was an ardent advocate of the “scientific temper”. In The Discovery of India, he writes, “The scientific approach, the adventurous and yet critical temper of science, the search for truth and new knowledge, the refusal to accept anything without testing and trial, the capacity to change previous conclusions in the face of new evidence, the reliance on observed fact and not on pre-conceived theory, the hard discipline of the mind, all this is necessary…”.

He is credited for pioneering many space and science research institutes in India. He dreamt of a nation that would be able to think independently, understand and practice scientific methods in their daily lives.