An opportunity to interact, says president of organiser Indian National Science Academy.
Satyapal Singh, the junior Union Minister for Education, will be the chief guest at the annual Science Day event, being organised by two of India’s top science academies, the Indian National Science Academy (INSA) and the Indian Academy of Sciences (IAS), in New Delhi on February 28.
In January 2018, Mr. Singh said that Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution deserved to be binned.
“Darwin’s theory (of evolution of humans) is scientifically wrong. It needs to change in school and college curriculum. No one has seen an ape turn into a man. Since man was seen on Earth he has always been a man,” he said on the sidelines of a conference in Maharashtra.
His remarks sparked considerable concern among the scientist fraternity with suggestions that there were attempts to polarise science along communal lines.
Some scientists even floated a petition condemning his statement and saying that it “harmed India’s reputation.”
Also read: What Darwin actually said about man and apes
Later on his senior in the Ministry, Prakash Javadekar said that he had told Mr. Singh to refrain from such comments.
A.K. Sood, president, INSA, told The Media that Mr. Singh’s presence was “an opportunity to interact” and his choice as chief guest was not due to his comments on evolution.
“We’d issued a statement when he made those comments. As science academies it’s our duty to interact with various people and this is going to be just a simple interaction,” he added.
Science Day is annually celebrated to mark the discovery of the Raman effect by Sir C.V. Raman and usually has the science academies organise public lectures on science.
Questions in exam
Professor Amitabh Joshi of the Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research (JNCASR) will lecture on ‘Why evolution is central to both biology and our lives.’
Post-Singh’s comments, the Pune-based Indian Institute of Science Education and Research included a question, worth two marks, in an examination asking students to argue why Mr. Singh’s statement was wrong.