BJP leaders have often given the Fundamental Duty to develop a scientific temper a big miss.

Cows exhale oxygen and five other unscientific gems from BJP leaders
news Science Tuesday, January 17, 2017 - 19:26

Rajasthan Education Minister Vasudev Devnani raised more than a few eyebrows when he said on Saturday that the cow was the only animal that not only inhaled, but also exhaled oxygen.

While Devnani holds a degree in engineering, it appears that the discipline’s thrust toward scientific temperament had little effect on him. Speaking about the “scientific importance” of the cow at an event organized by the Akshaya Patra Foundation at the Hingonia Cow Rehabilitation Centre in Jaipur, Devnani also claimed that cow dung had “anti-radioactive” properties and that being near a cow was enough to cure one of cough and cold.

This is not the first time that a political leader has given science a complete miss in pursuit of a quotable moment. BJP leaders, in particular, have been known to base science on mythology and try to pass it off as the former.

Here’s a list of five other gems from party leaders that show that the pursuit of scientific temper is one Fundamental Duty enshrined in the Constitution that the BJP hasn’t taken seriously enough.

Human body + elephant head = Successful plastic surgery

 In October 2014, Prime Minister Narendra Modi was speaking at an event in Mumbai on improving healthcare facilities, when he claimed that India boasted of the first plastic surgeon in the world. He then invoked Ganesha, the deity with the head of an elephant, saying:

“There must have been some plastic surgeon at that time who got an elephant’s head on the body of a human being and began the practice of plastic surgery.”

He also referred to Karna, the warrior prince from Mahabharata and said that his birth outside his mother’s womb proved that “genetic science” was in existence in India at the time.

Astrology > Science

In a country where the kundli still governs how well a marriage is going to work or not, astrology has many takers. And while there are arguments claiming that astrology is based on some stable and rational variables, there has been no concrete proof that it is entirely scientific.

But surely, science is more reliable than astrology? BJP MP Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank would disagree. In an impassioned answer in a Lok Sabha debate in 2014, Nishank claimed that astrology was much ahead of science.

Image for representation

Describing astrology as the “science of making calculations lakhs of years in advance”, Nishank said that “all other sciences have been dwarfed by our ancient astrologers”.

Urging that we should promote the science of astrology, Nishank also said that it is the “number one science in the world”.

(Re)discovering the origin of Ganga

Uma Bharti, the Union Minister of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation, is another BJP leader who has demanded that documented scientific evidence take second place behind Hindu mythology.

Image for representation, via PTI

Insisting that because the river Ganga is known to emerge from the locks of Shiva, the deity who resided in the Kailash mountain, Bharti instructed the National Institute of Hydrology in 2015 to (re-)trace the origins of Ganga in Kailash Mansarovar as opposed to Gaumukh near Gangotri.

While the NIH observatory at Bhojwasa near the Gangotri glacier had deduced from research that Ganga’s source was Gaumukh, the new direction (200 kilometers from Gaumukh) was described as a challenging one by Manohar Arora, NIH expert at Gangotri, to TOI.    

Yogic farming = ‘Empowered’ seeds

In September 2015, Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh told a venue full of agricultural scientists and farmers that he would encourage “yogic farming” to “empower seeds with the help of positive thinking”.

Apart from “enhancing potency” of the seeds through “parmatma shakti”, Singh also said that yogic farming would give Indian farmers better confidence to face challenges like global warming and climate change.

Image for representation, via PTI

Singh added that with the help of ‘rajyog’, they wanted to help farmers and even increase the fertility of the soil as well as activity of microorganisms.

Yogic farming refers to practices of combining natural inputs with elements of positive thinking and mind power to increase the output of the produce.

Aiming to double farmers' income by 2022, Singh reiterated the emphasis on yogic farming in October, saying that the push would be driven under Parampragat Krishi Vikas Yojana. The policy would also seek to popularise organic farming.

Yagna will bring rain, scientifically

2016 saw many parts of India face acute water crises due to a scant monsoon. But in August, BJP MP Virendra Singh provided a fool-proof solution to induce rainfall: conduct a yagna.

Here’s the brilliant logic behind it: “Havan of ghee produces Oxygen and havan of agricultural produce produces Hydrogen, you prove whether the two make water.”


Image for representation, via PTI

And this wasn’t even the first time Singh made the statement. He had made a similar claim in May, saying that conducting a yagna helps in “attracting clouds” and purifying nature, making it a spiritual as well as scientific solution.

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