Articles

Union Government wasting crores in researching cows and religious beliefs.

It has become a common occurrence for politicians and Government officials at the highest level to make pseudoscientific statements such as female peacocks drink male peacocks’ tears for reproduction, rather than through sexual reproduction.

Advertisement

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had cited Lord Ganesh in 2014 to claim that Indians were pioneers of Plastic Surgery in a conference with Doctors and Scientists, without any regard for the fact that a common man’s scientific vigor might be led to a wrong path if the Head of the State is making these unscientific claims.

Politicians’ lack of scientific knowledge getting trolled in social media without affecting the nation’s scientific temper is fine. But their lack of scientific knowledge getting in the way of administration and thereby affecting the progression of scientific growth is highly problematic as it puts the nation’s future in the field of science itself in jeopardy.

In this article, we’ll see some of the ‘scientific research’ projects funded and promoted by Narendra Modi led BJP Government which are utterly unscientific and based purely on religious fanaticism.

Cow & Country

After Modi’s BJP formed government in 2014, a term “Cowpathy” became commonly used to describe using cow urine, cow dung and other related items to treat various diseases which led to the formation of a National Steering Committee for ‘Scientific Validation and Research on Panchgavya’ (SVAROP), a research institute under the Department of Science and Technology.

The Committee’s primary objective is to find out the medicinal values and agricultural applications of the Panchagavya, a mixture of cow’s milk, ghee, curd, dung and urine by conducting ‘scientific’ studies.

Department of Science and Technology and Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR) have joined hands with IIT Delhi as the hub for this committee headed by Harsh Vardhan, the then Minister for Science and Technology. Vijay Bhatkar and Jayakumar, former office bearers of RSS affiliated Vignana Bharati and members from RSS’ Gau Vigyan Anusandhan Kendra were also important members in the SVAROP research committee.

SVAROP was allocated 100 crores by the Union Government. In 2019, Ministry of Science and Technology has sanctioned only 30 crores and 4 other ministries involved in the project had not sanctioned their share of the SVAROP’s sanctioned allotment and SVAROP had also not seen any significant developments.  The validity and scientific acceptance for any research committee will be achieved only through the research papers published by it. But searching for SVAROP’s research papers, we were able to find only 2 review articles. But there was no research paper or article about Panchgavya.

When BJP MPs such as Pragya Thakur are spreading unverified information such as cow urine curing AIDS, cancer, and other serious ailments, SVAROP has failed to provide any scientific evidence for these claims.

As the SVAROP failed, the Union Government formed yet another research committee based on cows. The new committee’s cow research and the objectives are the same as SVAROP, but with a different name – “Scientific Utilization Through Research Augmentation-Prime Products from Indigenous Cows” (SUTRA PIC).

Under the Ministry of Science and Technology, various premier institutions of the country such as DBT, DSIR, CSIR and Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and the Ministries of AYUSH have joined together in Indian Government’s invite research & development proposals.

The SUTRA PIC invite claims,

  • Indian cows are believed to possess certain unique qualities& characteristics.
  • It is believed that cow dung and urine are rich in microbial communities.
  • Indian Cow’s Milk is believed to help in managing regular weight of the weight conscious people.
  • It is also widely believed that smoldering cow patties keep away mosquitoes.

Most of the claims in the invitation are just based on popular belief but there is no mention of cow related products’ medicinal values or their scientific use cases.

Over 100 scientists across the country have signed an open appeal to withdraw from the SUTRA PIC program immediately citing that it is unscientific, and it would only drain the nation’s funds but will not enhance the nation’s scientific growth.

Moreover, in 2017, professors and students from IIT – Chennai, Delhi and various other institutions had launched a nation-wide protest Modi government giving importance to science projects based on religion and cutting of funds for genuine research.

Covid-19 Era

At the peak of the pandemic, lakhs of people were dying because of lack of oxygen shortages in Hospitals and lack of planning by the Government. Amidst all that was going on, a trial research was funded by the DST to determine “the effect of Gayatri Mantra in treating Covid-19” which irked many Indian scientists as it was directly mixing religion in science.

In the research proposal published in 2021, it was mentioned “Chanting Gayatri Mantra is a holy method of worship. There is no viable cure or vaccine for the coronavirus. Scientists are focused on developing medicines and vaccines for this disease. Since chanting Gayatri Mantra had shown some good results in other ailments, this research would focus on how chanting Gayatri Mantra and doing Pranayama would affect the Covid-19 patients.”

The research was done in AIIMS, Rishikesh. With the Rs.3 lakhs provided by the Department of Science and Technology; the research was conducted on 20 patients with mild symptoms of Covid. They were separated into 2 groups of 10 each and one of those groups were made to chant Gayatri Mantra and trained to do Pranayama in the morning and evening through video conferencing.

Baba Ramdev’s interference

During the pandemic, the scientists were ignored and pushed aside to make way for Yoga guru Baba Ramdev. Without any evidence or proof whatsoever of the efficacy of the drug (Coronil) developed by Baba Ramdev, Union Minister Harsh Vardhan was actively promoted it.

Baba Ramdev had claimed that the full research was completed on his drug for Covid, the Coronil and he also claimed that it was approved by the World Health Organization. WHO later clarified that it had not reviewed or certified the effectiveness of any traditional medicine for the treatment of Covid.

Indian Medical Association criticized the move heavily and wrote to the National Medical Commission over disregard of the Code of Conduct set by the Medical Council of India. YouTurn had written an article covering the Indian Medical Association’s criticism of Coronil.

Scientists under Pressure

As the Union Government is increasingly focused on establishing religious beliefs as Science, the funding for the unscientific projects and research is increasing. In 2019, Tata Institute of Fundamental Research in Mumbai functioning under the Department of Atomic Energy had said that due to insufficient funds, staff members and students and post-doctoral fellows of TIFR, its centres and field stations will be paid 50 per cent of the net salary for the month of February.

Apart from the cuts in funding, scientists are not getting recognized too.

Most recently, in September this year, Union Government announced that the awards and grants to 7 science institutes including DST, DBT, CSIR were being reduced.

For example, it was announced that the 207 awards given by the Department of Science and Technology were removed and only 4 awards would be given. It is also noteworthy that three of the four awards given exclusively to women scientists will also be cancelled.

It is frightening to see the Union Government on one hand promoting pseudoscientific, mixing religion with science and doing cow politics and on the other hand it is cutting funds for proper research, failing to recognize scientists and also turning a deaf ear to them. These are destroying the scientific foundations and infrastructure of the country.

It is regrettable that at the time when India is supposed to lead the world in Science, it is balled up with religious politics and pseudoscience.

At the time when actual science and research is being affect due to lack of funds, granting funds to pseudoscience, mixing religious and political beliefs and trying to establish them as science by taking advantage of the scientific infrastructure of the country and funding it is nothing less than destroying the foundations of science in the country. Let’s hope that considering our human resource, we will develop into a superpower in the field of science by following the proper path.

– Dr.Devi (Genetics)

 

Reference:

  1. https://thewire.in/science/panchgavya-svarop-iit-csir-cow-urine
  2. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/lack-of-funds-from-centre-stalls-research-in-cow-derivatives/article28982768.ece?homepage=true
  3. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0975947617304977
  4. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0975947621001947
  5. https://dst.gov.in/sites/default/files/SUTRA-%20PIC%20Format.pdf
  6. https://indianexpress.com/article/india/research-plan-on-indigenous-cows-scientists-urge-govt-to-withdraw-programme-call-it-unscientific-6277539/
  7. https://qz.com/india/1050040/more-funds-less-cow-dung-angry-indian-scientists-message-to-the-modi-government
  8. http://ctri.nic.in/Clinicaltrials/showallp.php?mid1=51219&EncHid=&userName=Gayatri%20Mantra
  9. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/science-ministry-funds-trial-on-effect-of-gayatri-mantra-in-treating-covid-19/article34111676.ece
  10. https://youturn.in/articles/baba-ramdev-allopathic-medicine.html
  11. https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/tifr-gives-half-salary-to-staff-citing-fund-crunch-pays-remaining-amount-after-news-goes-viral/story-k62t6FZEtBa9xt1nm4LcHN.html
  12. https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/govt-to-phase-out-100-awards-several-fellowships-in-science/articleshow/94466088.cms

Please complete the required fields.




Back to top button