It isn’t unusual to hear people claim that they can see evidence of modern scientific discoveries in ancient texts, but it’s a little concerning when it comes from those that are supposed to be part of the governing body of entire nations. The latest example of such a dire state of affairs, as spotted by BBC News, comes courtesy of India’s chief minister of Tripura.
Speaking at a public function earlier this week, he claimed that the Internet was invented in ancient India. He cited the venerable Sanskrit epic, the Mahabharata, as containing evidence of his claim. One of the longest, if not the longest poem in the world, these hundreds of thousands of verses speak of war, princes, and is regarded by many Hindus as both a text about Hindu moral law (a dharma) and a literal history.
According to the Times of India, the minister said: “Internet and satellite communication had existed in the days of Mahabharata.
“How could Sanjaya give a detailed account and description to the blind king about the battle of Kurukshetra? It means internet was there, the satellites and that technology was there in this country at that time,” he suggested. Tripura’s Governor, one Mr Roy, also apparently agrees with this interpretation.
Putting that all aside for one moment, the Mahabharata in its current form was written roughly in the year 400 CE.
The Internet doesn’t have a set start date – it’s more of an emergent technological innovation really – but the earliest date it can be traced back to is 1965, when two computers at MIT’s Lincoln Lab communicated with each other using packet-switching technology. A proto-global network, starting with the 1973 connection between the UK and Norway named ARPANET, is arguably the concrete birth date of the Internet we know and love/hate today.
It doesn’t take a genius to see there’s a bit of a problem here, chronologically speaking. People on Twitter were quick to react, generally choosing either sarcastic ridicule or downright concern.
Those in the latter category note that Mr Deb – the chief minister in question – is just one of several members of the ruling BJP government who’ve attempted to rewrite scientific history. (A good rundown of some of the offenders can be viewed here.)
Ho hum. Say what you will, but you have to admit that this minister is very on trend with 2018.