CPI leader Mullakkara Retnakaran and Congress leader Shashi Tharoor suggested that the institute be instead named after Dr Palpu.

Golwalker with his long black and grey hair and beard and specsMS Golkwalkar / By Sukruth / Wiki Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0
news Controversy Saturday, December 05, 2020 - 18:25

A controversy has broken out after Union Minister for Science and Technology Dr Harsh Vardhan announced on Friday that the second campus of the Rajiv Gandhi Centre for Biotechnology (RGCB) in Thiruvananthapuram will be renamed after RSS ideologue MS Golwalkar.

Health Minister Dr Vardhan, announced that the campus will be named 'Shri Guruji Madhav Sadashiv Golwalkar National Centre for Complex Disease in Cancer and Viral Infection,’ he was while addressing a curtain-raiser session of the sixth edition of India International Science Festival (IISF), scheduled for December 22-25, held online and organised by the RGCB.

The research facility should be named after Dr Palpu, who was infamously denied a doctor's job in Travancore because of his caste, said Communist Party of India (CPI) leader Mullakkara Retnakaran. Dr Palpu had later become Chief Medical Officer of Mysore State. Mullakkara Retnakaran said this in a long post against the Union government's move to name the RGCB campus after MS Golwalkar, late RSS ideologue. 

തിരുവനന്തപുരത്തെ രാജീവ് ഗാന്ധി സെന്റര് ഫോര് ബയോ ടെക്നോളജിയുടെ രണ്ടാമത്തെ ക്യാംപസിന് ആര്എസ്എസ് സൈദ്ധാന്തികന് എംഎസ്...

Posted by Mullakkara Retnakaran on Friday, December 4, 2020

Soon after Mullakkara's post, Congress leader and Member of Parliament from Thiruvananthapuram, Shashi Tharoor, also made the same suggestion. "I suggest a local hero: Dr. P Palpu, renowned bacteriologist &social reformer, born in Thiruvananthapuram, 1863. Expert in serum therapy &tropical medicine from Cambridge. Director of the Vaccine Institute &Fellow of the Royal Institute of Public Health (sic)," Shashi Tharoor wrote.

Both the leaders questioned Golwalkar's contribution to science to receive such an honour. "There would be no other individual who has spread so much hatred in the history of this country," Mullakkara wrote on his Facebook post. He quoted Golkwalker's words from his book ‘We or Our Nationhood Defined,’ in which he hailed Adolf Hitler's annihilation of Jews in Nazi Germany as a lesson that could be imbibed in India.

Shashi Tharoor wrote on Twitter, "Must GoI (Government of India) memorialise a bigoted Hitler-admirer who in a 1966 speech to VHP asserted the supremacy of religion over science?"

He also asked, “What is MSG's contribution to science other than promoting the disease of communalism?”

Dr Palpu, on the other hand, was someone who fought the plague risking his own life as well as fought for the rights of the downtrodden in Travancore, Mullakkara wrote. Shashi Tharoor called Dr Palpu a forward-looking scientist and medical practitioner who "would be far more appropriate than an obscurantist ideologue of no scientific achievement & no discernible contribution to public health. It’s a BJP insult to Thiruvananthapuram & should be resisted (sic)."

Angry Twitter users also reacted against the move to name the institute after Golwalkar. "A Scandalous move by the Central Govt to insult Keralites. The Central Govt should revoke this," wrote Advaidism.

Another Twitter user wrote, "When Mahatma Gandhi was killed Golwalkar was in Thiruvananthapuram. They distributed sweets at the function attended by Golwalkar. Today a centre institute is being named after the same Golwalkar."

Anagha tweeted, "Who is Ms Golwalkar? In 1942, Golwalkar is said to have forbade RSS volunteers from taking part in the Gandhi-led Quit India Movement. He said that fighting against the British was not a part of RSS’s mission (sic)."

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