Science And History Lessons From The Prime Minister
It was reported briefly earlier, but here's the video and the transcript made available by the Prime Minister's Office itself of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's speech after inaugurating the refurbished and partly newly built H N Reliance Foundation Hospital.in Mumbai on Saturday, October 25, 2014:
In the field of medical science, we can take pride as to what our country was at some point in time.
We all read about the story of Karna in the Mahabharata.
But if ever think a bit more, we will 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 how Karna would have been born outside his mother’s womb.
We worship Ganesha. There must have been some plastic surgeon at that time who put an elephant’s head on the body of a human being and began plastic surgery.
There must be many such areas where our ancestors must have made big contributions. Some of these are well recognised.
If we look at "space science", our ancestors had, at some point, displayed great strength in "space science" at some time.
At that time, centuries back, what people like Aryabhatt had said is being recognised by science today.
What I mean to say is that we are the country which had these capabilities. We need to figure out how to regain these.
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Mukul Kesavan parses the PM's, well, pronouncements, at NDTV: The Prime Minister and Early Indian Science
...the closest parallel to the Prime Minister's thinking is to be found not in the religious beliefs of other political figures, but in the speculative theories of Erich von Daniken.
Implausible though his narratives were, Daniken offered speculative explanations for actual artefacts: the Sphinx, the pyramids, the mysterious Nazca Lines of Peru. Mr Modi set himself a more challenging task. He supplied technological explanations for legendary figures drawn from faith and epic narrative. An exact parallel for Mr Modi's daring is hard to find. If David Cameron were to urge a gathering of British doctors to match the achievement of early Anglo-Saxon surgeons in creating a Griffin by grafting an eagle's head and wings on to the body of a lion, the Prime Minister might have company.
Parsing Mr Modi's speech in this way might be premature. The Prime Minister could, in a statement or a tweet, withdraw his claims or indicate that he misspoke while speaking off the cuff. But if he doesn't-and it's unlikely he will, because Mr Modi is not a recanter- we should ask more keenly than we have so far: what else does Mr Modi believe?
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