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Soft Hindutva: Indian Vice President claims ancient Indians invented cataract and plastic surgery

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Indian history is replete with those who have significantly advanced human knowledge, with surgeons from ancient India capable of performing complex medical procedures like cataract and plastic surgery, Vice-President M Venkaiah Naidu said today. He said that, besides surgeons, many scientists, mathematicians, physicists, chemists, metallurgists, astronomers and a number of innovators in ancient India have significantly advanced human knowledge.

Naidu was addressing a function organised to honour young scientists in Kalady, the birthplace of Adi Shankaracharya, about 45 km from here. “One recalls a number of such illustrious names like Aryabhata, Pingala, Brahmagupta, Bhaskara, Varahamihira, Charaka and Sushrutha. India gave the concept of zero and the binary system to the world, “he said.

“We knew how to make steel alloys and smelt zinc. Our ancient surgeons could conduct many complicated surgeries, including plastic surgery and cataract surgery,” he said. He conferred the Adi Shankara Asianet News Young Scientist Awards 2018 at the Adi Shankara Institute of Engineering & Technology, Kalady.

Hindu nationalists have long propagated their belief that many discoveries of modern science and technology were known to the people of ancient India. And now as they have risen to power they have started propagating these claims under the guise of science and history.

Naidu said the award was an eloquent testimony to the inquisitiveness, ingenuity and innovative initiative inherent in young India. He said along with “gross national income”,the focus must also be on how Science and Technology can foster greater happiness and better quality of life, as well as harmonious inclusive societies. “Knowledge must lead us to become wise and we must have the wisdom to use the knowledge we acquire for improving our lives,” Naidu said.

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The vice president said one should draw inspiration from the best in Indian tradition, remove the “deadwood” accumulated over the years and revitalise the nation. Noting that nearly two-third of the country’s population is aged below 35 years, Naidu said if youth can acquire the right mix of knowledge, skills and attitudes required for the 21st century, the dividends to growth and development could be enormous.

“Advancement of human knowledge has occurred in our country because of the spirit of enquiry, the ability to question, the ability to research and the ability to arrive at the truth,” he said. The vice president said three qualities were needed to achieve excellence, the first of which was willingness to learn from each and every person, institution and learning resource. The second is the ability to probe, analyse and synthesise and the third, to search for out of the box solutions to the problems at hand, he added.

The quotes of the Indian vice President resemble those that were espoused by Indian Prime Minster Narendar Modi in October 2014. Modi had claimed that cosmetic surgery and reproductive genetics were practiced thousands of years ago. As proof, Narendra Modi gave the examples of the warrior Karna from the Sanskrit epic Mahabharata and of the elephant-headed Hindu god Ganesha.

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“We can feel proud of what our country achieved in medical science at one point of time,” the prime minister told a gathering of doctors and other professionals at a hospital in Mumbai on Saturday. “We all read about Karna in the Mahabharata. If we think a little more, we realise that the Mahabharata says Karna was not born from his mother’s womb. This means that genetic science was present at that time. That is why Karna could be born outside his mother’s womb.”

Indian history is replete with those who have significantly advanced human knowledge, with surgeons from ancient India capable of performing complex medical procedures like cataract and plastic surgery, Vice-President M Venkaiah Naidu said today.

Afterwards in April this year, newly elected chief minister of the tiny north-eastern state of Tripura, Biplab Deb, declared that ancient Indians had invented the internet some two millennia ago. The truth of his declaration, he insisted, lay in the fact that in the ancient epic Mahabharata, one of the characters, Sanjaya, was able to provide a detailed narrative to the blind king Dhritarashtra of a battle that was taking place many miles away. This anecdote was the basis of Deb’s assertion.

Read more: Modi’s Success in Bringing Hindutva Template into Indian Politics

Earlier this year, the BJP education minister of the Rajasthan province shocked many by claiming that the cow was the only animal that inhaled and exhaled oxygen. The veneration of the cow is something of an obsession for the BJP, whose followers have assaulted human beings in the name of cow protection. Now it seems that this veneration of the Holy Cow is being supported by pseudoscience.

Hindu nationalists have long propagated their belief that many discoveries of modern science and technology were known to the people of ancient India. And now as they have risen to power they have started propagating these claims under the guise of science and history.


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