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Stop the attempts to dilute the integrity of scientific process in science meets

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Stop the attempts to dilute the integrity of scientific process in science meets


Why this is important

We convey to you our deep concern with the proceedings of the session on ‘Ancient Sciences through Sanskrit’ at the Indian Science Congress held from 3rd to 7th of January at Mumbai. In this session a talk titled ‘Ancient Indian aviation technology’ by Captain Bodas and Ameya Jadhav claimed the existence of aircraft in India 6000-7000 years ago, which “travelled from one country to another, from one continent to another, and from one planet to another” and that “in those days, aeroplanes could move left, right, as well as backwards, unlike modern planes which only fly forward.” The speaker did not bother to cite any archaeological evidence and just referred to the texts of Shri Bramhamuni Parivrajaka and Shri G. R. Josyer which have already been debunked in a study conducted in 1974 by a team of scientists from the Indian Institute of Science led by Prof. H. S. Mukunda.

Another talk in that symposium dealt with the “fusion of science and spirituality due to inter-penetration law”. Yet another talk claimed that “to understand Einstein, one needs to read Vedas”—a claim without any reference to which part of which Veda throws any light on relativity and how it was historically possible to conceive the theory of relativity before the advent of Newton's laws of mechanics and Maxwell's laws of electromagnetism.

We are deeply astonished and shocked that such a hallowed assembly of scientists has been misused to make false and chauvinistic claims about ancient India. Such attempts only serve to make Indian science a butt of ridicule, and undermine the true contribution of ancient India in science. We also note with dismay that none of the speakers of this symposium were scientists of any repute, and scientists and scholars who are known to have worked extensively on science in ancient India were not among the speakers.

It is known that in any reputed science conference, the papers are first reviewed by experts before being accepted for presentation at a conference. We are not sure whether this process has been followed for all the presentations. We are not against talks on debatable topics in a scientific conference, but it is the responsibility of the organizers of a conference to ensure that the method of science is followed in making a claim, and to ensure that sufficient time is available for discussions and questioning by peers from the floor of the house. However, In the Indian Science Congress-2015, this accepted scientific procedure was not honoured, and attendees who wanted to put questions to the speakers were not allowed to do so.

We are deeply concerned about the renewed attempts of mixing science with mysticism and history with mythology, and the attempts to propagate unscientific superstitious beliefs in the name of science. We urge the scientific community to be vigilant about these attempts, to protect the integrity of the scientific process, and not to let the scientific institutions, conferences, symposiums and meetings to be used to propagate pseudo-science.

We are strongly in favour of a true appraisal of the achievements of ancient India in different branches of science and technology and bring them to the notice of the world. Commendable efforts have already been made by serious historians of science which have brought out many of the great achievements in ancient and medieval India. Such efforts need to continue rather than false claims which belittle our rich heritage in the eyes of the world.

Posted January 9, 2015
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