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AICTE gets 4,800 signatures in support of Ancient Knowledge Systems course for engineering students

On September 27, a group of scientists and experts filed two online petitions against the book, claiming it endorses pseudoscientific claims about supposed inventions in ancient India

mumbai Updated: Oct 11, 2018 07:14 IST
Shreya Bhandary
Shreya Bhandary
Hindustan Times
Ancient knowledge systems,Bharatiya Vidya Saar,AICTE
AICTE has promised the book will be submitted to another expert panel if enough complaints are received. (HT File)

Amid the controversy over the decision to include the Bharatiya Vidya Saar Book as part of the reference material for an elective course on Ancient Knowledge Systems for engineering students, the All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) said no change is expected anytime soon, as more people are supporting the move than opposing it.

On September 27, a group of scientists and experts filed two online petitions against the book, claiming it endorses pseudoscientific claims about supposed inventions in ancient India.

The petition highlights some of the “outlandish claims” mentioned in the book, including a theory on how Rishi Agastya invented electro-voltaic cell and also gave the method of electrolysis to produce oxygen and hydrogen from water, and how the speed of light and theory of gravitation have been accurately mentioned in Rig Veda.

AICTE has promised the book will be submitted to another expert panel if enough complaints are received.

“There are 2,300 signatures against the book, and 4,800 in its support,” said Anil Sahastrabuddhe, chairman, AICTE.

HC Pradhan, scientist and expert said the problem is that the book is being portrayed as “scientific research”, whereas it has case studies which have already been proven to be wrong.

“Ideas that have not been proven to be true in hundreds of years can’t be portrayed as science. A case study has to be approved by an expert panel and printed in several journals before it is considered official,” said Pradhan, adding instead of insisting on placing this book and its content as “science”, AICTE should clearly mention it has case studies that are open to suggestions and yet to be proven on paper.

Officials at AICTE, however, feel the book is meant for students to experiment with, and find out for themselves what is true.

“That is true science, where students use their own experiments and ideas to prove age-old scientific methodology. The Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan (publisher) has also promised to make references available to students in the book,” said Sahastrabuddhe, adding the council is asking colleges to conduct scientific investigations and find out the truth behind these theories, in the spirit of scientific research. “We’ll take action when there are enough complaints against it.”

First Published: Oct 11, 2018 00:08 IST