Photo: Wikimedia Commons
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Science of delusion?

A university vice chancellor claiming that Kauravas were test tube babies is just one of many wild claims on India's scientific prowess from lore

The Indian Science Congress has a long history but it can’t match that of India’s epics. At the 106th session of the congress, Andhra Pradesh University vice chancellor G. Nageshwar Rao claimed the Kauravas, who feature in the Mahabharata, were test tube babies, reasoning that the story of 100 eggs being fertilized in earthen pots was indeed in vitro fertilization.

There were other claims, including one about ancient India having guided missiles and aircraft. Thankfully, there was immediate pushback from the scientific community and others. On its part, the Indian Science Congress Association decided to form a panel to vet content. This is not the first instance of such wild claims. There were protests at the 102nd congress in 2015 after a paper was presented claiming that India had aircraft in the distant past.

Whatever the dubious claims to past glory, India’s current status is that none of its institutes of higher education ranks among the top 10 in the world, there are very few peer-reviewed research papers and the patent output is less than that at several global corporations.