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Myths And Motormouths

Myths And Motormouths

Pregnant women should control lust, hang “beautiful” pictures on the wall and shun non-vegetarian food if they wish to have a healthy baby, states a booklet released by the AYUSH Ministry; Mahatma Gandhi was a clever Bania, says BJP president Amit Shah; Peahens drink tears of peacocks and get pregnant, says a Rajasthan High Court Judge; Cow is a substitute to mother who is a substitute to God, rules yet another Judge of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana High Court.

These are some of the gems coming from the government, the chief of the party that rules the country, and Judges holding constitutional positions. All these statements are a travesty of truth. They are devoid of scientific proof and against established facts. They militate against scientific temper which the Constitution of India wants people to develop. Some of the statements verge on superstition; some go against natural and biological laws; and some contravene ground reality.

Though myths and folklores are part and parcel of Indian culture, they have never been given a scientific cover as is being done today. The lead in propagating preposterous theories was taken by none else but Prime Minister Narendra Modi when he, referring to Lord Ganesh, stated that there must have been some plastic surgeon who got an elephant’s head on the body to a human being. Ironically he propounded this ludicrous theory at a gathering of doctors and other professionals. Stating that Karna was not born from his mother’s womb, Mr Modi further stated that genetic science existed in India several millennia ago.   

It is a tragedy that leaders who claim to take the nation to a super power status are giving legitimacy to myths and legends. Scientists and experts have ridiculed such statements as laughable and unreasonable. Every country may have its share of obscurantists. But in India, those holding responsible government and constitutional positions are expressing such views in public giving it authenticity.

Making such controversial remarks could be a ploy to divert attention of the public from burning issues like farmers’ agitation; massive unemployment and unrest among the youth; rising discontent among minorities and Dalits; increasing terrorist strikes; and growing Maoist attacks. As the government loses grip on issues that have a telling impact on the life of citizens, it is apparently trying to hide behind emotive issues. Playing with people’s emotions and sentiments may bring about short-term benefits, but it will irretrievably sully the progressive image of the nation.    

The number of motormouths is on the rise apparently due to the invincible political dominance of the ruling party. The success in election after election may have given the party an aura of unassailability. This can lead to two types of dangers. First, there will be elements in the society who wish to curry favour with the government, and hence will speak a language that will warm the cockles of its heart. Second, some elements within the party-fold, drunk with power and success, will try to strike an emotional chord with the cadre telling them what is music to their ears. In both cases, the country is faced with the danger of irrationality taking over rationality. Here facts become the biggest casualty, and perception takes centrestage.

(Published on 19th June 2017, Volume XXIX, Issue 25)