SCIENTISTS AND educators in Mumbai on Thursday started a campaign against the All India Council of Technical Education’s (AICTE) plan to endorse the book ‘Bharatiya Vidya Saar’, published by Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, as a reference book for an elective course on “ancient knowledge systems”. The AICTE plans to introduce the course as part of its model curriculum for engineering students. An online petition to the AICTE chairperson circulated in the evening has so far garnered over 110 signatures.
The petition, while maintaining that it lauds the decision to make “technical students aware about history of Indian science and philosophy”, it stated: “However, we are taken aback by the news story published yesterday that AICTE has chosen to endorse the book titled Bharatiya Vidya Saar by Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan as a reference book for this course. This book also includes an endorsement message from your desk as part of
A group of scientists have analysed the contents of the book and busted some of the “unsubstantiated claims” made in it. “We note some of the most outlandish claims here: Rishi Agastya invented elctro-voltaic cell. Rishi Agastya gives method of electrolysis to produce oxygen and hydrogen from water. Rishi Kanad in ‘Vaisheshik Sutra’ discusses types of motion as well as Newton’s laws of motion. The book ‘Vaimanika Shastra’ was written by Rishi Bharadwaj about 5,000 years ago. The book ‘Vaimanika Shastra’ is authoritative text on not just construction on airplanes but also on navigation, aviation fuels and pilot preparation. The speed of light has been accurately mentioned in Rig Veda. The theory of gravitation has been first mentioned in Rig Veda,” the petition stated.
“Books such as these do a disservice to the goal of taking knowledge of ancient Indian sciences to students by spreading conspiracy theories and blatantly false information. Obviously, not every technical college… would have resident expertise to realise the below par academic quality of such a book and several gullible institutions may end up teaching such misinformation to thousands of students. AICTE is also effectively damaging future academic careers of students, as any reputed university, from India or aboard, would be sceptical about selecting students coming out of the universities teaching from such a book…,” it added.
Aniket Sule from the Homi Bhabha Centre for Science Education, one of the scientists behind the petition, said: “We had received copies of some of the pages of the book and read the content… the petition is based on that. Such books
do a disservice to the scientific community.”
Despite repeated attempts, AICTE Director Anil Sahasrabuddhe was not available for a comment. “Professor Sahasrabuddhe is an academic and he will hopefully see our point. We have just started the campaign and hope to receive a good response. Then we will initiate a dialogue with AICTE,” said Sule.