“Sabotaging a nation’s future”

“Sabotaging a nation’s future,” Infidel753 Blog, Infidel753

The government of India recently issued new guidance on schooling.  If implemented as described and made permanent, the changes will be disastrous for the country’s future.

The theory of evolution — the core and basis of all modern biology and most medical science —  is to be dropped, except for the small minority of students who “major” in biology.  Some other key scientific concepts, such as the periodic table of the elements and Faraday’s contributions to the understanding of electricity and magnetism, are also being dropped.

Science is not only the basis of all real human understanding of reality, it’s the basis of technology, which in turn is the basis of any nation’s prosperity, progress, quality of life, military power, ability to handle environmental issues, and pretty much everything else that matters.  Any nation that neglects or rejects science will be a failure, no matter what else it gets right.

There is no ambiguity about what the problem is here.  India’s current ruling party, the Bhartiya Janata party (BJP) has an explicitly religio-nationalist ideology, similar to that of Russia’s Putin regime or of the increasingly dominant fundamentalist element of the Republican party in the US.  The religion whose supremacy it promotes is Hinduism, not Christianity, but in practical terms that’s a trivial difference — the real-world effects are the same.  The new education guidance in India also de-emphasizes teaching about democracy and governance.  The whole thing is strikingly similar to what we see in those states of the US where fundamentalism dominates.  The post also notes that Erdoğan’s religio-nationalist government in Turkey ended the teaching of evolution in schools in 2017, and mentions several other countries — all of them Islamic — which have banned it.

Indian government officials are quoted as uttering and defending statements like “no one ever saw an ape turning into a human being” — the same kind of ignorance we hear from creationists in the US — and Indian scientists are warning that “this overall move to expunge some of these foundational topics will facilitate a climate ripe for superstition and unreason to fester”.  Indeed, superstitious rubbish of all kinds, from homeopathy to “spiritual farming” to claimed medical benefits of cow urine, is running rampant.  Most countries have problems with silly beliefs among some elements of their populations, of course, but under the BJP, even scientific institutes are being made to waste money and time on such garbage.  Indian scientists are pushing back and protesting, but with the government against their efforts, it’s a tough fight.

Americans don’t need to look overseas to see the real-world results of this kind of thing.  Average life expectancy in the US has been falling for years, and our country has now dropped out of the world’s top fifty countries for life expectancy.  However, the real story is the exploding gap between “red” and “blue” areas of the country — the latter still have life expectancy almost on par with western Europe, while the former are quickly falling behind, a trend which accelerated during the covid pandemic due to mass rejection of vaccines and other precautions.  The stygian depth of ignorance and stupidity prevalent among anti-vaxers is the poisonous fruit of long neglect and rejection of science education in so much of the country, and hundreds of thousands of Americans have paid with their lives for it.

India matters because it is the world’s largest democracy, and the democratic world can’t afford to keep leaning exclusively on American leadership as heavily as it has done over the last few decades.  The Trump period showed that isolationism and authoritarianism have a substantial constituency in the US.  Something like that could happen again.  The whole democratic world needs to be as strong and advanced as possible, especially other large democracies like India and Brazil, so that it can continue to flourish even if a future Trump-like government here takes the US out of the picture for some period of time.  We can’t afford to have the development of a country as important as India suffocated by the kind of nonsense the BJP is promoting.

This also reminds us that it is an error to attribute the damaging effects of religion exclusively to Abrahamic monotheism, and to whitewash it in the east or elsewhere.  The present battle between science and nonsense in India looks astonishingly similar to the same battle in the US.  The struggle of science, reason, knowledge, and evidence-based thinking against superstition, ignorance, belief, and dogma is one struggle, all over the world.