News Analysis |
A high-ranking official in India is being ridiculed online for claiming that the internet and satellite technology was invented in ancient India. Biplab Deb, the Chief Minister of the north-eastern state of Tripura, claimed at a public function on Tuesday that ancient Indians invented the internet.
Speaking at a workshop on computerization, Mr. Deb claimed the web was invented thousands of years ago and that the technology was around during the days of Mahabharata, according to media reports. He used the tale of Sanjaya, from the epic poetic tale Mahabharata, and his blow-by-blow recount of the battle of Kurukshetra to the blind king as an example that the technology must have existed.
But he doesn’t have many backers – with his name now trending on Twitter as Indians ridicule him.
“Internet and satellite communication had existed in the days of Mahabharata. How could Sanjaya (the charioteer of King Dhritarashtra in the epic) give a detailed account and description to the blind king about the battle of Kurukshetra? It means internet was there, the satellites and that technology was there in this country at that time,” Mr. Deb said, according to the Times of India.
Mr. Deb said that while European nations and the United States may claim to have invented the internet, the technology mostly began in India and was built by its people.
“Internet and satellite system had existed in India lakhs of years ago. The richest culture belongs to our nation and I feel proud of it,” Times of India reported him as saying.
“Even today in internet and software technology, we are ahead. See Microsoft, it may be a US company but most of its engineers are all from our country.”
He’s been criticised on Twitter for being “anti-illectual” and “regressive” in his views.
“Rather than solve today’s problems they’re busy romanticizing a fictional past that never existed. Pathetic and embarrassing,” said economist Rupa Subramanaya.
Tripura Governor Tathagata Roy on Wednesday backed Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb’s claim that the internet and satellites existed in the days of the Mahabharata.
“Tripura Chief Minister’s observations about the happenings of the Puranic period are topical,” Roy said on Twitter on Wednesday. “It is virtually impossible to conceive of devices like ‘Divya drishti’, Pushpaka Ratha’, etc without some kind of prototype and study thereon.”
Deb, who was speaking at a workshop on Computerisation and Reforms at Pragna Bhawan in Agartala on Tuesday, said Indians invented technology more than a thousand years ago. “How could Dhritarashtra see through Sanjay’s eyes?” the chief minister said.
“This means technology was there, the internet was there, the satellite was there. Communication was possible because our technology was sophisticated and developed during those times. It is not like the Internet or media wasn’t available in the age of Mahabharata.”
The chief minister stood by his claims on Wednesday and said it was “narrow-minded people who find it tough to believe this”, NDTV reported.
“My country had the technology years ago, which no country had. I am proud of that and I think every Indian should feel proud. I want to repeat that we should accept the truth and should not get confused,” he said.
Many people questioned the claims from a list of Indian ministers in the current Hindu nationalist BJP government that has claimed modern-day scientific or technological advancements were around in ancient India.
Indeed, the current claims echo the assertion of Indian Prime Minister Narendera Modi who stated that genetic sciences existed in ancient India (roundabout 10th century BC). As proof, Narendra Modi gave the examples of the warrior Karna from the Sanskrit epic Mahabharata and of the elephant-headed Hindu god Ganesha.
“We can feel proud of what our country achieved in medical science at one point in 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 realize 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.”
Hindu nationalists have long propagated their belief that many discoveries of modern science and technology were known to the people of ancient India. But now for the first time, an Indian prime minister has endorsed these claims, maintaining that cosmetic surgery and reproductive genetics were practiced thousands of years ago. It seems that now many other higher; level officials are following his example to lay down a new foundation of a culturally engineered India.