Namaste’ keeps viruses away, says speaker at science meet


FEBRUARY 07, 2019

HIGHLIGHTS
– Such claims made at a conference on ‘Emerging Trends and Innovation in School Sciences’ at the NCERT-run Regional Institute of Education in Bhopal
– Some speakers said that sindoor “helps in balancing blood pressure” and going around a Tulsi plant has a “cooling effect”

BHOPAL: Forget an apple a day, it’s the joining of fingers in ‘Namaste’ that keeps disease away. This and other claims were made at a conference on ‘Emerging Trends and Innovation in School Sciences’ at the NCERT-run Regional Institute of Education (RIE) in Bhopal on Wednesday.

Some speakers said that sindoor “helps in balancing blood pressure” and going around a Tulsi plant has a “cooling effect” as many in the audience stared in disbelief.
The scientific fraternity is outraged and says papers that have no scientific basis should not be allowed at such a conference. Research scholars and scientists will protest at the conference venue at RIE on Thursday.

Several scientists had cautioned RIE against allowing such papers. “We had sent emails to the principal of RIE, N Pradhan, saying that submission of such pseudoscientific papers should not be allowed. Shockingly, instead of stopping such papers, the organisers discussed several topics that have no scientific base,” professor Soumitro Banerjee of Indian Institute of Science Education & Research (Kolkata) told TOI over phone.

Dr Ankit Sule from Homi Bhabha Centre for Science Education (Mumbai) had also objected to several topics slated for discussion. “On the first day, the conference had two parallel sessions on ‘Ancient Scientific Knowledge in Recent Perspectives’. According to those present at these sessions and notes taken by persons in the audience, several speakers made a number of questionable claims,” said Dr Sule. Citing examples, Dr Sule said there were claims that sindoor helps balance blood pressure and joining hands in ‘namaste’ keeps viruses and bacteria away.

It is obvious that this claim is a perfect example of pseudo-science. Scientists who have held marches for science for the past two years oppose just such propagation of pseudo-scientific beliefs,” said Dr Sule.

RIE principal says he cannot comment on technical papersRecently, Prof K Vijayraghavan, principal scientific adviser to Government of India, wrote in an online article that propagation of such claims is certainly not warranted and it becomes duty of organisers and session chairs to ensure that such claims are not presented from the dais,” Dr Sule added. “Sadly, all our warnings were ignored and the organisers did not take any steps to stop these talks from happening.”

Dr Sule’s colleague at Homi Bhabha Centre, Dr Rohini Karandikar, who has come here to present her paper, corroborated that a speaker extolled the cooling effect of Tulsi. “The speaker could not give any scientific reason for it,” said Dr Karandikar.
When TOI contacted RIE principal N Pradhan, he said: “I am not a scientist and can’t comment on technical papers presented in the conference. A committee was formed to check the papers that were submitted.” He denied the institute had received any mails before the conference cautioning against pseudo-scientific papers.

Source: TimesofIndia.com



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