Indian Youth Science Congress: ‘We must know enough Sanskrit to decode Vedas’

Scientist says community must keep India’s past in mind.

Written by Priyanka Sahoo | Mumbai | Published: February 17, 2017 1:59 am

VEDIC SHLOKAS or verses have hidden scientific knowledge, so young scientists and students should know enough Sanskrit to decode the Vedas, according to scientist Arvind Untawale, who was the chief guest at the eighth Indian Youth Science Congress.

“We (from the scientific community) must think about the past and what our rishis and munis have done. In Hindu tradition, we have the Vedas, which have so much scientific knowledge,” said the retired scientist of the National Institute of Oceanography, Goa, at the Youth Science Congress at the University of Mumbai on Thursday.

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The Vedic science claims of Untawale are similar to those made in the Indian Science Congress last year by Captain Anand Bodas, who was widely criticised then for his claim that aircraft existed 7,000 years ago in ancient India.

The scientific community had slammed the retired principal of a pilot training institute for making “pseudo-scientific “ comments. The organisers of the event were also accused of saffronisation of an academic and scientific event.

On similar lines, Untawale told students that verses in the Vedas give scientific details such as distance between planets and their movements. Urging young scientists and students to study Sanskrit, Untawale said, “We must know enough Sanskrit to decode the Vedas.”

The retired scientist, who is currently the executive secretary of the Mangroves Society of India, said he learnt from a Sanskrit scholar that the Vedas have dual meanings: the superficial meaning or the figure of speech and the in-depth scientific meaning. Untawale has been a part of several national committees on the protection of mangroves.

He was also a part of the National Mangrove Committee constituted by the Ministry of Environment and Forests.

The eighth edition of the three-day Youth Science Congress was hosted by the University of Mumbai in collaboration with the MS Swaminathan Research Foundation, Chennai, SRM University, Chennai, and Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Youth Development.

The Youth Science Congress is an annual event held by MSSRF and SRM University. With an aim to address the gap between the Children’s Science Congress and the Indian Science Congress, the Youth Science Congress Association provides a platform for researchers to network, meet experts and be inspired to excel in science.

More than 500 abstracts have been received from students across the country in this year’s edition. At the three-day event, participants will take part in several competitions, lectures and poster presentations.

Climate change

Based on the theme “Food for all in the Anthropocene era”, lectures on the first day revolved around climate change and food security. Swaminathan, known as the father of the Green Revolution, said two challenges cripple the Anthropocene era: Climate change and malnutrition.

In a discussion on climate change, panelists talked about the imminence of the problem, causes behind it, repercussions and effects on nutrition as well as mitigation techniques.

Dr M Mohapatra, additional Director General of the India Meteorological Department, warned that durations of heat waves were expected to rise and winters would be warmer.

Madhura Swaminathan, chairperson, MSSRF, and professor at the Indian Statistical Institute, delivered a lecture on food security. She highlighted malnutrition as a challenge. “Since 1991, the growth rate of food production has remained lower than the rate of growth of population,” she said.

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