New Delhi: Junior Education Minister Satyapal Singh is standing by his statement questioning the evolutionary theory of Charles Darwin, which has been sharply criticised by the scientific community. As a senior scientist, Raghavendra Gadagkar, said it was "politically polarizing science and scientists" and Biocon chief Kiran Mazumdar Shaw called it an "insult to science and scientists", the minister claimed he was also a "man of science".
- Satyapal Singh stands by his statement questioning Darwin's theory
- Scientist, Raghavendra Gadagkar says minister polarising science
- Minister claims Darwin's theory a myth, challenged world over
"Darwin's theory is being challenged the world over. Darwinism is a myth," Mr Singh told NDTV." If I'm making a statement I can't make it without a basis... I am a man of science, I'm not coming from Arts background... I have completed my PhD in Chemistry from Delhi University," he said.
On Friday, Mr Singh had called Darwin's theory was "scientifically wrong" saying there are no witnesses to apes evolving into humans, and so it should be removed from science books. Rubbishing the 19th Century English naturalist's theory, the former IPS officer, who took voluntary retirement to contest the 2014 general elections, said: "Our ancestors haven't mentioned anywhere that they ever saw an ape turning into a man. Nobody has said or written that they ever saw an ape turning into a human being. No book we have read or the tales told to us by our grandparents had any such mention."
Mr Gadagkar, who is the Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Sciences at the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, however, said the minister's statement is untenable at many levels "on the basis of facts". "It seems to be aimed at politically polarizing science and scientists, and that is the real danger we must guard against," the former President of Indian National Science Academy, told NDTV.
"At the most elementary level, all evidence indicates that humans diverged from our closest living relative (the chimpanzees) about 5 million years ago. Therefore our ancestors did not have the privilege of witnessing the event and recording it in their scriptures," he added.
"For a junior minister from Ministry of Human Resource Development to make this statement is troubling. It's an insult to his office," Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, the Chairman and Managing Director of Biocon Limited, told NDTV. The minister, she added, "has insulted scientists and the scientific community across the world. As a biologist I don't know what to say."
According to Darwin, who is regarded as the father of evolution, all organisms had a common ancestry way back in time and kept on changing or evolving - a process that takes many thousands of years - to adapt to the change in environment.