news Saturday, May 30, 2015 - 05:30
Chinna Jeeyar and APSC member Akhil IIT Madras is a mess. And it is embarrassing. The recent controversy surrounding the temporary derecognition of the Ambedkar-Periyar Study Circle, and subsequent protests, have not just brought to the fore the underlying ideological and political tension in the serene campus, but also that the campus is fertile ground for rotten, unscientific propaganda and outdated social engineering. Let’s start with the pseudoscience. IIT Madras, in the past few years, has hosted some of the most embarrassing guests to lecture its students, making it a festering ground of unscientific buffoonery. In 2012, IITM hosted His Holiness Sri Tridandi Srimannarayana Ramanuja Chinna Jeeyar Swamiji to deliver a lecture. Chinna Jeeyar, as he is popularly known, is a Vedic pontiff and a preacher of Vaishnavism. He is also a funny man. An unscientifically funny man. During the course of his talk, Chinna Jeeyar gives some serious insight into Geography and Evolutionary Theory for the bright minds at IIT. And IITians cheer him on. “Who were our ancestors?” asks Jeeyar. No one answers. He obliges them with it, “Monkeys, apes, right? We are the children of apes, right?” No. He disagrees. Why? Here are his reasons. Because if we call our mom or dad monkeys, they won’t like it. Neither will their parents. Because even apes don’t agree they are our ancestors. And how do we know that? Because apes don’t dress. They don’t eat meat.  They don’t speak lies. They never spoil the nature. They never “corrupt the things”. They never cause breaches to the ozone. “So monkeys never accept that we are their children,” he says, “We are children of God.” There is instant applause from the audience. Evolution, he says, is not a proven theory, and hints at Darwin being an ape himself, following which IITians, again, cheer him on. For your comic relief, the video is here. And then there is Geography. Apparently, men who wrote the Puranas knew how the earth looked, they described it as, “a rabbit trying to catch hold of a bush in front of it” according to him. And if you turn today's world map upside down, voila! Picture courtesy: Chinna Jeeyar's presentation at IIT M Here is the full video of the Vedic Geography lessons. There have been other such lectures too, like Dr ABS Sastry being invited to the campus to talk about Vedic Mathematics and Vedic Science. Thankfully, some IITians took him down. But that he was invited in the first place goes to show the free run many people have been having at the campus. This is the reason members of the Ambedkar-Periyar Study Circle angry. “There are people who hold on to scientific temper, but there have been attempts to bring up such (unscientific) lectures,” says Akhil, a member of APSC. Akhil has a menacing look, but an adolescent voice and endearing mannerisms. Although, the ideologies he and his friends spout are text book Indian left, living in the past and oblivious to present-day problems. The group’s main intention, they say, is to fight caste and capitalism. Speaking to TNM about how caste exists in our lives every day, Kabir, another member of APSC says, “We are strongly opposed to caste, and are an anti-caste organization,” and adds casually for good measure, “We are an anti-capitalist organization.” “We want to promote the works of Ambedkar and Periyar,” says Abhinav Surya, member of the APSC. He says that their ‘struggle’ is “social, economic, political and scientific.” Asked what their economic stand is, he says, "We are against this government's pro-corportate, anit-poor policies". He says he has a problem with capitalism, and with free markets. Here is the problem, and what the good folks of APSC are ignorant of. Ambedkar was a free-market economist. And there is enough proof for that. In one of his early economic works, Ambedkar says, “Trade is an important apparatus in a society, based on private property and pursuit of individual gain; without it, it would be difficult for its members to distribute the specialised products of their labour.” Even on caste, Tamil Nadu has moved far away from being the land which required Periyar’s anti-Brahmin rhetoric. Today, the fault lines of caste lie between OBCs and Dalits. One group swears by Periyar, the other group considers Ambedkar their god. Within the APSC's name lies the contradiction of the battle they want to fight. As Abhinav says, “caste is still prevalent in urban centres,” but the dynamics of caste have changed since Periyar and Ambedkar. Both Akhil and Abhinav swear by affirmative action. “Affirmative action is a must,” says Akhil. When asked if he knew Ambedkar sought it only for a few years, “But we have failed to uplift the down-trodden with it,” says Abhinav. Isn’t that a hint then that we need to look for newer solutions which involve freer markets, which include a more liberal approach to businesses and industry? IIT Madras is stalled in time. Some of the lectures IIT holds are a taint on the institution, and the political path APSC has chosen is one which is only fit for rhetorical politics, as is already being seen. Between crazy Vedic scientists and clueless anti-capitalists, its image is suffering. Video of 2kM5dxKYaAY  
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