- According to our culture we are children of rishis, says Satya Pal Singh
- Indian culture doesn't give importance to human rights, he says
- Kanimozhi said a scientific temper was important to protect human rights
A former Union Minister's comments doubting Darwin's theory of evolution caused a bit of a kerfuffle in parliament on Friday. Satya Pal Singh, a senior BJP lawmaker, declared in the Lok Sabha that he believed Indians were descendants of rishis (sages) rather than monkeys.
The statement, predictably, provoked a howl of protests from the opposition benches, with lawmakers like Mahua Moitra and Kanimozhi wondering about "scientific temperament".
Satya Pal Singh, a former Mumbai police chief, was participating in a discussion on a proposed bill to amend the human rights law when he dropped the gem.
"The Indian culture does not give importance to human rights and does not have the concept of human rights workers. Our culture says we are the children of rishis. I don't want to offend people who believe that we are children of monkeys but according to our culture we are children of rishis," said Mr Singh, who was education minister in the previous BJP-led government.
Among those who were on their feet instantly was Mahua Moitra of the Trinamool Congress, a debutant MP who made quite an impression with her first-ever speech in parliament, in which she listed out what she called signs of fascism under the dispensation.
"Only people who do not know the worth of human rights workers will interrupt me," Mr Singh said.
He continued, "Our culture says there's no need for human rights workers as we need to focus on being honest good righteous people. We need to treat people the way we want to be treated. Not just humans we need to treat all humans with respect. This is the ideals of our culture."
The former minister accused non-profits and activists of being "financed by foreign organisations" and for supporting "terrorists, anti-nationals and rapists". The government, he said, was committed to protecting the human rights of those who deserved it.
DMK lawmaker Kanimozhi said a scientific temper was important for the sake of protecting human rights. "We are homo sapiens and the House should uphold scientific temperament," she remarked.
The Protection of Human Rights (Amendment) Bill, 2019 was passed in the Lok Sabha after several opposition MPs objected to it, saying it had many gaps and was not in conformity with the Paris principles. The law proposes changes to the constitution of the National Human Rights Commission and state rights bodies.