Dharmendra Jore: Dr Singh's theory of self-evolution
It seems saying things that add to his political profile, which turned him into a minister from an IPS officer, suits the former Mumbai police commissioner more
Dr Satyapal Singh's downright dismissal of Charles Darwin's Theory of Evolution hasn't surprised officers in the Indian Police Service (IPS) and civilians who know him. The officers say that Singh seems to be quenching his unending desire of making free-wheeling speeches. They say, as a minister associated with the BJP, he now has a license to speak, at will. Service rules didn't bother him when he made utterances at public places, say officers who have worked with him, adding that Dr Singh would often indulge in hyperbole, much before as the minister of human resource development (HRD), he trashed the evolution of mankind, at the All India Vedik Sammelan in Aurangabad last Friday.
"Don't be surprised if he dismisses things that he studied and wrote in chemistry exams to get his graduation and post-graduation degrees. He is most likely to negate his opinions, forget about others, if given a chance," said an officer.
Student of chemistry
Dr Singh's bio-data on the Lok Sabha website says he was a student of chemistry till post-graduation. It says he has authored four books. It adds that the ex-IPS man is a thinker, effective speaker and powerful orator, who has addressed many national and international seminars on police, philosophical, socio-cultural and vedic issues. He is an accomplished scholar on Indian culture, spirituality and comparative religions, a dedicated Arya and scholar of vedic studies and Sanskrit. His thesis on Naxals in Maharashtra earned him a doctorate. Such an outstanding academic profile, and yet he causes grievous hurt to the scientific community. The answer lies in his bio-data wherein repeated references to his extreme interest in Vedic and Aryan ways are made.
An MP from Baghpat in UP, Dr Singh harboured a dream of making it to PM Modi's team ever since his election in 2014. His wish was granted last September, and he hasn't looked back since. He has courted controversy, except for a statement that suited perfectly his chemistry student profile, when he opposed the immersion of flowers and ashes into the Ganges to stop pollution. That statement evoked angry resentment from Hindu clerics, saints and sadhus, who said he was unaware of sanatan dharma and must be punished.
The cop-turned-minister has asked for teaching engineering students about an Indian, Shivkar Bapuji Talpade, who invented the aeroplane eight years before the Wright brothers and also about 'Pushpak Vimaan', a flying chariot mentioned in the Ramayana, and the Hindu deity of craftsmanship Vishwakarma. A proud father to two daughters, he told students in Gorakhpur that no boy would marry a girl who comes to the wedding wearing jeans. Similarly, no saint will be revered if he gives up his traditional attire for a pair of jeans, he said.
Answerable to people
His views on sex education shocked us when he said as city police commissioner, that countries with sex education have an increased number of crimes against women. Police officers in Mumbai, Pune and Nagpur where he headed the local force, say that his occasional speeches - they called it pravachan (sermon) - were as interesting as his talks as a politician. That happened in a close-knit uniformed service where the boss is respected and heard patiently, notwithstanding his merits and demerits. Now Dr Singh is in a much wider space where he cannot wield the power of khaki and police rules. He is answerable to the people.
While he talks sense as a minister of Ganga Rejuvenation, why does he talk otherwise as an HRD minister? Does he talk irrelevant 'Darwin-is-sham' things to suit his own evolution from police officer to BJP minister? Is he doing this to impress upon certain powerful people who were so impressed with his 'Hindu-Vedic' profile that they gave in to his demand to contest Lok Sabha polls? Protests are pouring in. The scientists' community wrote to Dr Singh demanding retraction of his claim on Darwin that has deeply pained them. It says the claim is factually incorrect to say the evolutionary principle has been rejected by them.
Scientists say that the minister's claim that the Vedas contain answers to all questions is exaggerated and is an insult to genuine research work on history of Indian scientific traditions. "When a minister working for the HRD in the country makes such claims, it harms the scientific community's efforts to propagate scientific thoughts and rationality through critical education and modern scientific research," says the letter to him, adding, "It also diminishes the image of the country at the global level and reduces faith of the international historical research community in genuine research by Indian researchers." Do we need to say more? It's time Dr Singh spoke satya, the truth.
Dharmendra Jore is political editor, mid-day. He tweets @dharmendrajore Send your feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org
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