On Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution, I ponder. The iconoclastic naturalist expounded his path breaking concept in his seminal book, On the Origin of the Species in 1859. Darwin worked sedulously to establish his theory that man evolved from the simian ape through a process of natural selection across various life forms, giving credence to the long held belief that it is the survival of the fittest that determines the way in which intelligent life transforms and progresses over time.
The human race has, by and large, embraced Darwin’s postulate and we have had no reason to question its soundness. No rebel has come forward with an equivalent of the laughable Flat Earth Society to refute Darwin’s views. Even at the most basic level of thinking, monkeys look like us (more or less), and pretty much behave like us, and are only handicapped by not being biped like us, and not gifted with the power of speech — thank goodness! We have all heard of the Infinite Monkey Theorem that holds that given an infinite length of time, a chimpanzee punching at random on a typewriter would almost surely type out the complete works of William Shakespeare. As the English rationalist Richard Dawkins pithily puts it, ‘We admit that we are like apes, but we seldom realise that we are apes’.
The human race has generally accepted this as true and we have been at peace with ourselves over Darwin’s study and findings. But hark! There is a twist in the tale (tail?). In India, we can always expect eccentric zealots to debunk theories that originated elsewhere as being fraudulent, and assume patriotic ownership for such discoveries. Recently, an Indian minister questioned Newton’s discovery of the Law of Gravity, and put forth the counter claim that it was India’s Brahmagupta who should be credited with the discovery 1000 years before Newton. So with Darwin.
This time it is the Union Minister of State for Human Resource Development, Satyapal Singh who dramatically claimed that Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution is ‘scientifically wrong’, and that it should be removed forthwith from our school and college curriculum. Carried away by his own solipsism, the Minister said, ‘From the time we have been hearing stories from our grandparents, ever since books were written, until today, nobody has, either in a story or in writing, said he went somewhere into a jungle and saw an ape turning into a man. This is not written anywhere. Darwin’s theory is scientifically wrong and so, in schools and colleges it must be changed. Since man came on Earth, he has always been man, and will always be man. You may not be aware… but in foreign countries, our scientists have said this about 35 years ago… that there is no truth in this’. Q.E.D.
All right, I am willing to concede that all that Biblical stuff about the Garden of Eden, Adam’s rib, Eve preferring Adam the apple, birth of the Original Sin and so on must surely be the product of someone’s fertile imagination. The only Garden of Eden I know is in Calcutta where international cricket is played and the spectators, particularly in the notorious E Block, behave like gorillas. But Charles Darwin?
This is science we are talking about here. Test tubes, pipettes, laboratories, smelly chemicals, that kind of stuff. Surely, our ministers must draw the line somewhere and stop claiming every discovery and invention to be of our own making. Talk about going ape over things! I am aware that our respected Prime Minister has been aggressively promoting the ‘Make in India’ campaign to the rest of the world, more power to his broad shoulders. But he must caution his ministers to stop going around claiming that everything that was ever made in the universe was ‘Made in India’.
Given that this is the second Indian minister in quick succession to have made tall and unsubstantiated claims, one wonders if this is some sort of cleverly orchestrated move to keep the India Shining story on the front pages on a regular basis. I realise India Shining was not authored by the present dispensation in Delhi, but it only goes to prove the general mindset of our rulers.
It almost seems as if all our ministers and senior officials have been told to come up with a dramatic declaration on a weekly basis. If this is true, I foresee many interesting revelations hitting the headlines over the coming weeks and months, leading up to the general elections in 2019. A cunning plan to put the voter in a sanguine frame of mind and puff his chest out with overweening pride. A 56 inch chest, did someone say?
So what can we now expect from our government servants in the near future? With Gravity and Darwinism well and truly in the bag, our ministers can now turn their attentions to greener pastures. I am thinking of the following life changing inventions - the light bulb, the wheel, the nail (yes, it is listed as a major invention), the contraceptive, the radio and the internet among others. If our ministers and their dedicated staff burn the candle at both ends and work their socks off, they will surely find an Indian connection that they can run to the electorate with at a time when the hustings will be bursting with activity. And if they need extra revitalising, they can always graft monkey glands into their nether regions, as discovered by French surgeon Serge Voronoff. Again with the monkeys!
India’s hour has come. The Sensex is booming (last week’s bloodbath, hopefully, was an aberration), the DeMo aftermath is behind us and all the teething troubles with GST have been sorted. It is time to remind our people of all the wonderful things our country has invented and discovered, the credit for which was being unfairly hogged by other countries. The PM exhorts us to Reform, Perform and Transform. Hear, hear.
As the atavistic, flag waving, face painted fans scream at cricket matches, ‘Indiaaaaaa, India!’
(The author is a brand consultant with an interest in music, cricket, humour and satire)