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Friday, December 14, 2018

Indian minister disputes evolutionary theory

by Proloy Bagchi (writer), Idgah Hills, Bhopal, February 27, 2018

The Human Resources Development minister said the Darwin's theory was scientifically wrong

Thank God the Junior HRD Minister has been ticked off by his senior colleague. He seemed to have become too big for his boots and indulged in making statements that were utter drivel. Satya Pal Singh was a late entrant in the Union Cabinet and was appointed the Minister of State in the Department of Human Resources Development. Before becoming an MP he was an Indian Police Service officer and had worked as Commissioner of Police, Mumbai. He had also worked as Commissioner at Pune and Nagpur, two big and problematic cities of the state of Maharashtra

To recount his brilliant findings, he had claimed that Darwin’s Theory of Evolution was all scientifically wrong. The claim that Man had evolved from apes was not proved as none has ever seen a monkey transforming into a human. “Since (the time) man is seen on earth he has always been man. Nobody, including our ancestors, in written or oral (sic), said that they saw an ape turning into a man”. Unfortunately, it was not very clearly reported about what his views were about man’s evolution. He, probably, was aiming at his own theory based on Vedic and/or Puranic theology.

He was, apparently, planning a seminar to prove that Charles Darwin was wrong and his theory should not be taught in schools and colleges. While making the statement he also claimed that he had acquired a degree of doctor of philosophy in Chemistry from the Delhi University and, therefore, he, presumably, thought he knew what he was talking about. Thankfully, he did not claim that he also cleared the Civil Services Examinations and qualified for the Indian Police Service which made him all the more eligible to reject Darwin’s theory of evolution that has been accepted by the scientific community over the last century and a half.

No wonder his statement evoked violent reactions from the scientists of the country. About 2000 scientists from major scientific institutions, such as Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, IIT Mumbai, Indian National Science Academy, National Academy of Sciences etc. condemned the minister’s remarks. “There is no scientific dispute about the basic facts of evolution”, they said. They also said that it would be a retrograde step to remove the theory of evolution from the curriculum of schools and colleges.

Mercifully, the senior minister Prakash Jawdekar squelched Singh’s plans well in time. Otherwise the latter would have got together some malleable and friendly scientific folk to propound some views contrarian to those of Darwin and made fools of themselves among the scientific community in India and abroad bringing bad name to Indian Science.

How could one ever think of contesting what Charles Darwin propounded in his Theories of Evolution and Natural Selection beats me. Darwin did what all he did by a laborious process. For instance, he went off, much against his father’s wishes, on a voyage in the early part of the 19th Century of around five years and meticulously collected his specimens of rocks and fossils from the coasts of South America, interested as he was in geology and natural sciences. Darwin is regarded as a giant of modern science, a naturalist to the core whose theories have been proved in modern times by several investigators in England and elsewhere. SP Singh, despite his Ph.D. in Chemistry, can stand nowhere near Darwin much less contest the latter’s pronouncements

SP Singh’s views are in close proximity to those held in Islam. Best of educated Muslims, including Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi, the Oxford educated late skipper of the Indian cricket team, reject Darwin’s theory. Pataudi had once said that Islam does not believe that Man had descended from monkeys and so he, too, couldn’t accept the proposition. They perhaps believe that everything in the universe, including Man was created by Allah.

The very comment of Singh that none has ever witnessed a monkey transforming into a man indicates he has not understood the scheme of things as Darwin saw and comprehended before theorizing about Evolution. Evolution, as the very word suggests, is not an instant process as Singh would like it to be. It is a slow and gradual process that has an indefinite future and may continue till eternity. The earth itself with all its components has evolved over millions or billions of years. Man, for example, in all probability, is not completely evolved yet and could continue to evolve and, with efflux of time, may become a creature far superior to what he is today. Who knows? Not you and I, nor SP Singh!



About the Writer

Pushing 80 I was born in Gwalior in Central India to parents who were educated in Calcutta, now Kolkata. My father did his master's in English in 1916. He was a professor of English in the then only college in Gwalior. After qualifying in the exams for entry in to central civil services I served the government of India for 34 years reaching the very top of the professional cadres of the Indian Postal Service. I also acted as consultant ion behalf of the Universal Postal Union in Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania and Swaziland.
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