India’s War on Science by Shashi Tharoor – Project Syndicate – And it is not only politicians who, encouraged by the BJP’s Hindutva ideology, are propagating pseudoscience in India. Modi associates – such as the yoga teacher and Ayurveda entrepreneur Baba Ramdev, who sells remedies to “cure” homosexuality – are regular offenders.
This has provided further nourishment to the gaggle of gurus who have turned religion and pseudo-spirituality into a lucrative business in India. The New Age “Sadhguru” Jaggi Vasudev, for example, warned in 2015 against eating during a lunar eclipse, because “there is a distinct change in the way cooked food is before and after” such an event. “What was nourishing food turns into poison,” he declared. “If there is food in your body, in two hours’ time, your energies will age by approximately 28 days.”
Others assert, with some level of official encouragement, that every scientific discovery or achievement – including jet aircraft and atomic weaponry – was made in India during the Vedic age. The underlying message is that ancient India had all the answers, and thus that traditional and indigenous beliefs and practices must be fundamentally superior to imported modern ideas and lifestyles.
The BJP and its affiliates exalt the wisdom of the past because they view it as central to the promotion of the faith-based communal identity that the Hindutva project upholds. For them, religion is not a matter of personal belief, a form of stretching one’s hands toward the divine; instead, it is a key feature of traditional identity politics, a means for maintaining social order, ensuring discipline and conformity, and preventing radical change.