Politicians should refrain from commenting on issues they have little or no understanding: Biman Basu
Minister of State for Human Resource Development Satyapal Singh’s controversial remarks on Darwin theory has been widely rejected by the scientific community in India. Upset over his ‘unscientific’ remarks, several scientists wrote to Human Resource Development Minister Prakash Javadekar expressing their concern over the matter. Sensing trouble, Javadekar advised his colleague not to make such statements.
Anju Grover for Indian Currents spoke to former Editor of Science Reporter, Biman Basu, to know his views on the controversial statement.
IC: What are your comments on Union Minister of State for HRD Satyapal Singh’s opinion on Darwin theory?
Biman Basu: Darwin's theory has been proven time and again. There is a genetic evidence to show how Chimpanzee and human beings used to live. His statement is ridiculous when he stated that nobody has seen monkey becoming a man. Darwin had never claimed that you can see a monkey becoming a man. Evolution is a very slow process which occurs over millions of years. There is fossil evidence of the evolution. He challenged it without understanding it properly. It is nothing but sheer ignorance.
IC: Singh called himself a responsible man of science. While condemning the theory, he recommended making changes in books in schools and colleges .
He should provide evidence to prove his point. If he claims himself to be scientist then he must know the meaning of fossil evidence.
IC: What could be the motive behind making such a controversial statement? Is it an attempt by the BJP to polarise the scientific community?
There is a dangerous tendency among some politicians to claim that India did everything in the past. They don't think even once before making such utterances. These politicians hardly realise that they are doing more harm to the country by making irresponsible statements on issues they have little or no understanding. Perhaps he (the minister) did not understand that there is a scientific method and scientific process to know the evolution. Unfortunately there is certain section in our society which talks about mythological stories that God created human beings. Science does not believe in God.
IC: In August 2017, several students, teachers, and engineers marched in Delhi demanding an increase in funding for real scientific research in India and a stop to the practice of mixing Hindu mythology and science.
We believe in science. We clearly understand what they are doing. They would say anything which they claim, is right.
IC: Several scientists’ bodies have condemned Singh and wrote to HRD minister Prakash Javadekar stating that it was an attempt to politically polarise the scientific community. Your comments…
Scientific research is funded by the government in India and not by any corporate as happens in United States, Britain or elsewhere in the world. So these scientists have to depend on government only.
IC: Several political leaders from the ruling party have made ‘unscientific statements' in the past... your comments.
The point is that they do not know what they are doing. It is really unfortunate.
IC: What, according to you, should be done to deal with such type of remarks?
Many scientists have taken a stand against the latest remarks but who is going to listen to them? Because, the entire funding of research is done by the government.
(Published on 29th January 2018, Volume XXX, Issue 05)