Dr. Satyapal Singh, presently Union Minister of State, Ministry of Human Resource Development made a comment on Darwin's theory of evolution. Indian Express in its website carried this remark ( Updated January 22, 2018). "“Darwin’s theory (of evolution of humans) is scientifically wrong. It needs to change in school and college curriculum. Since the man is seen on Earth he has always been a man,” the Union Minister of State for Human Resource Development while speaking to reporters in Aurangabad on Friday."
There is a furore on this statement. Indian Express further carried a statement by a group of scientists of India (Updated January 23. 2018). The following passages are in the statement
"We, the scientists, science communicators and scientifically-oriented members of the public, are deeply pained by your claim."
"When a minister working for human resource development in the country makes such claims, it harms the scientific community’s efforts to propagate scientific thoughts and rationality through critical education and modern scientific research. It also diminishes the image of the country at the global level and reduces faith of the international historical research community in the genuine research by the Indian researchers."
The incident that occurred cannot be understood from the paper reports. I could not get any more detail from the internet based documents. But certainly the protest of the group of scientists is very strong and focused.
Should we examine the state of the theory of any phenomenon with ideas that germinate in us in response the data and research output that is assimilated by us? Or are we bound by the existing dominant paradigm to suppress our thinking process?
In this situation Dr. Satyapal Singh is a scientist himself having acquired a PhD degree. He made a remark in a discussion with newspaper reports. He could have presented a paper in a research conference or he could have published it in a journal. But it so happened that he made the remark in an interaction with reporters. But basically, can he make a comment or express an opinion on scientific theories or not? Dr. Satyapal Singh's academic qualifications are "M.Sc., M. Phill (Chemistry); M.A., Ph.D. (Public Administration); M.B.A. (Strategic Management)
Educated at Meerut University, University of Delhi and University of Wollongong, Australia" according to Lok Sabha records. (http://22.214.171.124/Loksabha/Members/MemberBioprofile.aspx?mpsno=4600). According to Wikipedia "He is a post-graduate in chemistry from Digambar Jain College, Baraut and has also done M Phil in Chemistry from Delhi University. He has secured an MBA from Australia and also has a MA in Public Administration and Ph.D. in Naxalism from Nagpur University." (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Satyapal_Singh)
If Dr. Singh is not convinced with theory of Darwin as explained by Darwin and the scientists that followed him and if he expresses that view of his, the scientific community of India has to live with it and allow Dr. Singh and other scientists who are influenced by him to do their scientific pursuit on this topic. A remark by the Minister may not immediately lead to removal of theory of Darwin from books. But it may results in a doubt being expressed about the theory in some subject or others. In the academic institutions of the country, only science is not being taught. Many other subjects are being taught. Also, all scientists are not against the concept of God and religion. There are many scientists who believe in the concept of God and religion. Science is also suspect, as new theories or investigations refute the old theories. In the case of religion also, many earlier or ancient ideas were rejected by some or many. We call our tradition, Sanatan Dharma, and say it remains new always indicating that we are willing to change as per our understanding. In this context, in the light of the controversy created by a remark against Darwin's theory, Indian scientists have to do a literature review of their ancient knowledge on this topic.
My early review pointed out to a book by Mackenzie Brown, "Hindu Perspectives on Evolution: Darwin, Dharma, and Design, C. Mackenzie Brown, Routledge, 19-Jan-2012 - Religion" The Google Books page gives a brief description of the book in this passage.
"Providing new insights into the contemporary creationist-evolution debates, this book looks at the Hindu cultural-religious traditions of India, the Hindu Dharma traditions. By focusing on the interaction of religion and science in a Hindu context, it offers a global context for understanding contemporary creationist-evolution conflicts and tensions utilizing a critical analysis of Hindu perspectives on these issues. The cultural and political as well as theological nature of these conflicts is illustrated by drawing attention to parallels with contemporary Islamic and Buddhist responses to modern science and Darwinism.
The book explores various ancient and classical Hindu models to explain the origin of the universe encompassing creationist as well as evolutionary—but non-Darwinian—interpretations of how we came to be. Complex schemes of cosmic evolution were developed, alongside creationist proofs for the existence of God utilizing distinctly Hindu versions of the design argument. After examining diverse elements of the Hindu Dharmic traditions that laid the groundwork for an ambivalent response to Darwinism when it first became known in India, the book highlights the significance of the colonial context. Analysing critically the question of compatibility between traditional Dharmic theories of knowledge and the epistemological assumptions underlying contemporary scientific methodology, the book raises broad questions regarding the frequently alleged harmony of Hinduism, the eternal Dharma, with modern science, and with Darwinian evolution in particular."
The book points out that research on the Darwin's evolution theory is continuing in other disciplines. Indian thought is being still examined to see its meaning in the light of our recent thinking which may not have considered the Indian explorations and accumulated knowledge in this regard. Certainly, Dr. Satyapal Singh created an interest in inquisitive Indian researchers to know more about Indian thought on the issue of spirituality and materialism.
I shall continue my exploration into the topic further.