Jalandhar: Scientists have condemned recent statements by Andhra Pradesh University vice chancellor G. Nageshwar Rao at the 106th Indian Science Congress. Rao had claimed that Kauravas were test-tube babies, fuelling the simmering debate over the rise of pseudoscience in India.

“It is indeed unfortunate that a sitting vice chancellor of a state university says something that is scientifically untenable," said K. VijayRaghavan, principal scientific advisor to the centre. “His chancellor should get a formal complaint from those who were there and he will surely hear personally from individual scientists and our very vocal science academies."

In his blog, the distinguished developmental biologist called out the speakers for making outright preposterous statements, but pointed out that these were not the gorillas in the room. “The gorillas, who deserve to be in pseudoscience bin are huge, several and freely roaming around," he said, adding pseudoscience, “by preventing the right thing from being done and also by doing the wrong thing," poses great danger.

Organized by one of the oldest science associations in the country, the Indian Science Congress owes its legacy to its main objective of promoting the cause of science in India ever since it was formed in 1914. However, a controversy erupted after Rao in one of the lectures claimed that the Kauravas (mythological characters) were born using stem cell technology, leaving the scientific community stunned.

“Everyone wonders how Gandhari gave birth to 100 children. How is it even humanly possible? But Mahabharata says that 100 eggs were fertilized and put into 100 earthen pots. Are they not test- tube babies?" wondered Rao.

The statements prompted condemnation from senior scientists. “The statements have no scientific backing and, are to say the least, bizarre. But we should not forget that these persons, do not represent what the bulk of Indian science stands for. Indian science is far away from all this. One of them (referring to Dr Kannan) is not even an Indian scientist," said Prof. Ramakrishna Ramaswamy, former president, Indian Academy of Sciences (IASc), one of the oldest science academies in India.