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IIT Kharagpur calendar ‘devoid of scientific evidence’

Sections of India’s scientists amused themselves wondering whether and how to respond to a 2022 calendar

Subhankar Chowdhury | Published 14.01.22, 07:09 AM
The calendar has been prepared jointly by the centre of excellence for Indian Knowledge Systems (IKS) and the Nehru Museum of Science & Technology at IIT Kharagpur.

The calendar has been prepared jointly by the centre of excellence for Indian Knowledge Systems (IKS) and the Nehru Museum of Science & Technology at IIT Kharagpur.

File picture.

A section of IIT Kharagpur alumni has written to the Union education minister expressing their “strong dismay at many of the controversial, devoid of scientific evidence, assertions in the Calendar for 2022” published by IIT Kharagpur that focuses on “reinterpretation of the Indus Valley Civilisation”. 

The alumni wrote on Tuesday that the calendar is “unworthy of association with our esteemed alma mater, which strives to be one of the finest institutes of science and technology in the world” and has been prepared with a definite conclusion in mind “which is contrary to the basic spirit of scientific inquiry”.

The Telegraph reported on December 28 that sections of India’s scientists amused themselves wondering whether and how to respond to a 2022 calendar providing “twelve evidences” for the “recognition of the secret of the Vedas”, “reinterpretation of the Indus Valley Civilisation” and “rebuttal of the Aryan invasion myth”.

The calendar has been prepared jointly by the centre of excellence for Indian Knowledge Systems (IKS), which was inaugurated recently, and the Nehru Museum of Science & Technology at IIT Kharagpur.

“We the alumni of the Institute are extremely sad and dismayed to witness that the content of the calendar has drawn extensive criticism from scientists and researchers, as a constituent body of an Institute of national importance is seen making sweeping statements in an area of ancient migration and of origins of people of South Asia, without any research base...,” says the letter to minister Dharmendra Pradhan.

The letter has been copied to IIT Kharagpur director V. K. Tewari.

The letter signed by 125 former students says the conclusions in the publication have not been backed by primary research published in peer-reviewed scientific journals, “a fundamental expectation from an institute of national importance”.

Rahul Banerjee, who had graduated in 1983 in civil engineering and received the distinguished alumnus award at the institute’s convocation in 2019, said what was “appalling” was the institution’s decision to associate itself with an unsubstantiated claim made by an individual and have it published.

Joy Sen, chair of IIT Kharagpur’s centre for excellence in Indian knowledge systems, is credited with “concept and research” on the calendar.

“An individual has come out with some unsubstantiated claims. He (Joy Sen) can have some hypotheses of his own. But when you don’t have hard evidence in support of your hypothesis then the institute cannot associate with this. It is appalling. Anything cannot be passed off in the name of IIT Kharagpur,” said Banerjee.

Repeated calls to the IIT Kharagpur director went unanswered. He did not respond to text messages and emails either.

Indrajit Dutta, who graduated from IIT Kharagpur in physics in 1977, said whatever has been represented in the calendar goes against all scientific theories and discoveries.

“The crux is that IIT Kharagpur being a scientific and technological institute cannot print what is unsubstantiated and not scientific,” he said.

Banerjee said: “It is unfortunate that IIT Kharagpur teachers are not being vocal against these attempts and the authorities are daring to publish such a calendar.”

“A group of students and faculty members from IIM-Ahmedabad and IIM-Bangalore last week wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi flagging hate speech and attacks on minorities, saying his silence emboldens voices of hate. The teachers of IIT Kharagpur must display courage. Or else such calendars will be published.”

Aniket Sule, an astronomer and professor at the Homi Bhabha Centre for Science Education, Mumbai, had told The Telegraph: “Are those who produced the calendar oblivious to all the scholarship on Indology over the past 50 years? The Aryan invasion theory has long been dead.”

Last updated on 14.01.22, 11:16 AM
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