Claims That Ancient Hindus Invented Stem Cell Research Instead of Einstein Causes An Uproar

A scientist from a university in southern Tamil Nadu state questioned both the general theory of relativity by Albert Einstein and the theory of gravity by Isaac Newton.

Organizers distance themselves from speakers who claimed Albert Einstein and Isaac Newton were wrong.

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Comments claiming Albert Einstein and Isaac Newton were wrong were heavily criticized by scientists [Reuters] 

The organizers of a major Indian science conference have distanced themselves from speakers who made some unusual claims during the five-day event held in the northern city of Jalandhar.

The speakers, one of whom was the vice chancellor of a South Indian university, claimed Hindus invented stem cell research thousands of years ago and said Einstein’s general theory of relativity was wrong.

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 Jalandhar, India 

“We had 100 Kauravas from one mother because of stem cell and test tube technology,” Andhra University Vice Chancellor G Nageshwar Rao said, referring to a story from the Hindu epic Mahabharata.

Rao also told the group of schoolchildren and scientists he was addressing that a demon king from another centuries-old Hindu epic had two dozen aircraft and a network of landing strips in modern-day Sri Lanka.

“Hindu Lord Vishnu used guided missiles known as ‘Vishnu Chakra’ and chased moving targets,” Rao, a professor of inorganic chemistry, told the crowd.

Rao was not the only scientist who made outlandish remarks.

A scientist from a university in southern Tamil Nadu state questioned both the general theory of relativity by Albert Einstein and the theory of gravity by Isaac Newton.

Following the comments, the organizers of the event, the Indian Scientific Congress Association, expressed “serious concern” and distanced themselves from the speakers.

“We don’t subscribe to their views and distance ourselves from their comments. This is unfortunate,” General Secretary of the Indian Scientific Congress Association Premendu P Mathur, told AFP news agency.

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‘Hindus capable of genetic engineering’

It is not the first time controversial remarks have been made during the annual congress.

In 2015, a paper was presented which said Hindus discovered the Pythagorean theorem but that Greek scientist Pythagoras had taken the credit for it.

A speaker at that year’s event also said aircraft were invented by Hindus in ancient times and that they had discovered the technology behind interplanetary travel.

A year earlier, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that Hindus in ancient times already possessed the capabilities of genetic engineering and cosmetic surgery.

prime minister
Prime Minister Narendra Modi

“We all read about Karna in the Mahabharata,” Modi said.

“If we think a little more, we realize that the Mahabharata says Karna was not born from his mother’s womb. This means that genetic science was present at that time,” he had said.

“That is why Karna could be born outside his mother’s womb.”

Modi also said cosmetic surgery must have been possible, as shown by the Hindu deity Ganesha.

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 Hindu god Ganesha

“We worship Lord Ganesha. 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.

In 2016, former chief minister of the state of Uttarakhand and member of parliament Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank called “astrology the biggest science” and that it “should be promoted”.

“There is a serious concern about such kind of utterances by responsible people.”

Nishank also said Hindus in ancient times had knowledge of nuclear science.

“We speak about nuclear science today. But Sage Kanad conducted nuclear test one lakh (100,000) years ago,” Nishank said during an interview with local media.

ramesh pokhriyai nishank
Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank

Those comments were all heavily criticized by scientists.

In 2017, thousands of scientists and their supporters marched across India to promote their work and demand that the government invest more in the field.

Not only did those marching call for more funding, but they also called for the end to “propagation of unscientific, obscurantist ideas and religious intolerance”, as well as better adherence to Article 51A of the Constitution, which states that it is the duty of every citizen to “develop the scientific temper, humanism and the spirit of inquiry and reform”.

Indian government tells Supreme Court Rohingya pose ‘serious threat’

The government also said there was a “serious possibility of eruption of violence against Buddhists in India by radicalized Rohingya.”

After an appeal from two Rohingya, India’s top court is considering PM Narendra Modi’s plan to deport some 40,000 Rohingya in India. The government said intelligence data showed links between some Rohingya and terrorism.

Rohingya-Konflikt in Myanmar - Proteste in Neu-Delhi (picture alliance/dpa/M. Swarup)

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government told the Supreme Court of India on Monday that the Rohingya were “illegal” immigrants.

The hearing is taking place as Rohingya face severe violence in their native Myanmar. More than 400,000 Rohingya have fled to Bangladesh in the past few weeks to escape military and civilian reprisals that the United Nations has described as “ethnic cleansing.” Later on Monday, Myanmar’s national security advisor said that his government was willing to welcome the refugees who had fled to Bangladesh back to their native Rakhine state, but that the details of the process still had to be worked out.

“We will make sure that everybody who left their home can return to their home but this is a process we have to discuss,” Thaung Tun told Reuters news agency after a meeting with British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly.

It was unclear how this would affect the estimated 40,000 Rohingya believed to have settled in India, including 16,000 of whom are registered with the UN’s refugee agency.

Infografik Rohingya Bevölkerung ENG

Read more: Myanmar’s Rohingya – A history of forced exoduses

The Indian government told the court that it had intelligence data that showed links between some Rohingya Muslims and Pakistan-based terror groups and other international terror organizations. It argued that such links made them a “serious threat to national security.”

The government also said there was a “serious possibility of eruption of violence against Buddhists in India by radicalized Rohingya.”

Lawyer Colin Gonsalves, who in a separate case is representing about 7,000 Rohingya living in the northern Indian city of Jammu, countered the government’s assertions.

“We just want to know: 40,000 people have been here, many of them for the last five years. Have you [the government] filed a single charge sheet, is anyone being prosecuted in the criminal court for being a terrorist? The answer is: no,” he told DW.

The court has adjourned the hearing in the matter to October 3.

Lack of evidence

India says it is not bound by the UN convention on refugees as it is not a signatory to the accord, but human rights activists disagree.

“The principle of non return of a person to a place where he will be executed or tortured has become a principle of customary international law which India follows,” Gonsalves told DW. “And it has attained the status of ‘jus cogens,’ which is a principle of law that no country can say is not applicable to it, such as torture and genocide.”

In a communication sent to all states in August, the Home Ministry [interior ministry] said the illegal migrants were more susceptible to terrorist recruitment efforts.

But an investigation by Indian broadcaster NDTV found “little evidence of the government claim.” The investigation that was carried out at major Rohingya settlements in the country showed little involvement in criminal wrongdoing by the refugees.

Lack of any evidence to support the government claim has led to speculations that the Rohingya were being targeted for their religion by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu-nationalist government.

Rohingya refugee in IndiaIndian government views Rohingya refugees as a national security threat

“It is really unfortunate that the government is going back on its commitment to refugees which it has reiterated several times in the past merely because these Rohingyas are Muslims,” said lawyer Prashant Bhushan, who filed the plea on behalf of two Rohingya men.

“I mean this is clearly a case of religious discrimination and an attempt to arouse a sort of feeling of… an anti-Muslim feeling or try and communalise the situation,” he told reporters outside the courthouse.

The UN’s human rights chief last week deplored Indian government’s move to deport Rohingya refugees.

“India cannot carry out collective expulsions, or return people to a place where they risk torture or other serious violations,” Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein said.

The Rohingya are an Indo-Aryan people, the vast majority of whom are Muslims. They usually migrate to India through a rather porous border to escape persecution in their native Rakhine state in Myanmar, where they have been denied citizenship rights.

They are viewed by the local authorities as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh. Myanmar’s Buddhist majority is often accused of subjecting them to discrimination and violence.

The ongoing violence follows an insurgent attack on security forces on August 25 in Rakhine state that sparked off a brutal military counteroffensive.

Hundreds of people, the majority of them Rohingya, have been killed in the violence that has seen many homes destroyed and several villages burned down. Myanmar’s government maintains the crackdown is part of a counter-terrorism drive, while the UN’s al-Hussein has said that it “seems a textbook example of ethnic cleansing.”

[written by Ashutosh Pandey]