From Golwalkar to Modi and other lesser BJP minions, why India’s right-wing...

From Golwalkar to Modi and other lesser BJP minions, why India’s right-wing peddles crackpot science and history

Chandan Nandy,

In ‘We or Our Nationhood Defined’, M S Golwalkar, the ‘intellectual’ torchbearer of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and guruji of India’s political right claims, while arguing that the Aryans were indigenous to India, that “…in ancient times, the North Police and with it the Arctic Zone was not where it is today…(T)he North Pole is not stationary and quite long ago it was in that part of the world, which, we find, is called Bihar and Orissa at the present; that then it moved northeast and then by a sometimes westerly, sometimes northward movement, it came to its present position. If this be so, did we leave the Arctic Zone and come to Hindusthan or were we all along here and the Arctic Zone left us and moved away northward in its zigzag march?”

While this explanation (the book was published in 1939) of a dynamic North Pole is at best moronic—Golwalkar is silent about the South Pole—not much has changed in the thought processes of India’s right-wing between then and now. Yesterday’s fringe is today’s mainstream, or almost so. Golwalkar’s conception of a dynamic North Pole would not be important today if we only passingly referred to it as a harmless, dunce-like theory deserving only a chuckle. Far from it, as Indians found to their utter dismay in the course of ‘deliberations’ in the just-concluded 106th Science Congress in Punjab’s Jalandhar. Ever since the advent of a BJP government in Delhi, we seem to have been surrounded by a deep and abiding stupidity.

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Here are a few examples of the imbecilic claims that some of our scientists claimed: Ramayana’s villain-in-chief Ravana operated aircraft and had functional airfields; the Kaurava brothers, who numbered a hundred, and were the arch foes of the righteous Pandavas, were born as test tube babies; human evolution began with the dasavatara (ten incarnations) of Vishnu; the theories of Isaac Newton and Albert Einstein were wrong and would be disproved; gravitational waves would be renamed as “Narendra Modi waves” and the gravitational lensing effect would be renamed “Harsh Vardhan effect”; and electricity and magnetism were the same phenomena.

While all these may sound pretty much like Golwalkar’s North-Pole-was-in-Bihar-and-Orissa, they really are scary. As far as India’s right-wing is concerned, such conception of science—nonsense for sure—is a matter of national glory. The organisers of the Jalandhar Science Congress and some of India’s eminent scientists have expressed shock and dismay at the claims made three days ago at the annual event which has progressively degenerated as the right-wing and their deranged torchbearers have progressively sought to capture such pre-eminent platforms. But why blame such two-bit right-wing scientists when the country’s chief executive, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has himself peddled false history?

It should not surprise us that Modi’s Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts marksheets and certificates are of doubtful authenticity. He has claimed to have taken up a course in ‘Entire Political Science’ while pursuing BA. Mendacity apart, Modi’s near-habitual falsification of facts and historical truths has assumed legendary proportions. In January this year, he claimed that ancient India’s sages possessed divya drishti which caused the “invention of television”. In October 2014, Modi said that “Karna (a mythical character in the epic Mahabharata) was not born from his mother’s womb” which “means that genetic science was present at that time”. At the 102nd edition (2015) of the Science Congress, he referred to the use of aeroplanes and the use of cosmetic surgery (while referring to Ganesha’s elephantine trunk) in prehistoric India.

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There are, of course, other lesser BJP mortals who have extolled on the virtues of cow urine as an effective medicinal treatment for humans, that astrology is above science, that no one has seen an ape turn into a man and that nuclear tests were conducted by a certain sage many thousands of years ago. There are other gems, but let’s return to why the right-wing has always displayed lunacy when referring to matters of the physical and social sciences. Right-wing politicians, especially in India, not do so because they are half-wits.

They make these outlandish claims because they believe that it is the best means to engage thousands of their followers and believers who they believe are clods. On the other hand, such obvious stupidity serves to act as a counter to more established forms of the philosophy of science as propagated by liberals – a form of anti-intellectualism, so to say. This, in a sense, is an attempt to corrupt facts to an extent that they would create “an array of polarities”. The “creation” of a “glorious past” must be necessarily be constructed, howsoever falsely and bizarrely, to divert the mind of the people from more pressing concerns stemming out of misgovernance and maladministration or both.

Constructed myths, manufactured histories, half-truths and outlandish claims of a supposedly great past sometimes have a seductive appeal on the masses, especially when repeated ad nauseum and ad infinitum. These are easy baits for gullible Indians—and there’s no lack of them—who are willing to swim in a sea of ignorance. The increasing regularity and frequency of the weird and outlandish claims of the right-wing leadership demonstrates that they are prepared not only to deceive—by cleverly crafting, packaging and selling myths and untruths—but also change perceptions of reality and facts about stories that never were. When ‘Make in India’ has failed, why not make up stories? After all, when ignorance is bliss for India’s right-wing, they must be a deliriously happy lot.