The 106th Indian Science Congress, which was recently held at that most august institution, Lovely Professional University, the commercials of which used to play before Bollywood film screenings, hosted a petri-dish of researchers and scientists, all of whom quacked out loud to make India Hindustan again.
Among the cutting-edge discoveries announced at the conclave were the fact that India was a dinosaur-breeding hotspot (never mind that India didn’t exist during the period, given that all landmasses were fused together into the supercontinent of Pangaea at the time), which was “discovered” by Lord Brahma, that Darwin of the Hindu pantheon. Also, the Kauravas were test-tube babies, which should tell you all you need to know about genetic engineering. And Ravana had ballistic missiles because apparently being a demon-god and king wasn’t enough (perhaps he had to get approval from his Congress before acting like a ten-head). These are but a few of the post-election discoveries from the country that once used to produce pioneering astronomers, mathematicians, and other people with a passing knowledge of grade-school science.
In any case, all of these failed plots of Amar Chitra Kathas were presented as fact, not fiction, signifying perhaps that one can never be too Right. And the fact of the matter is that the least ludicrous of these “factoids” were picked up and published by universities and organizations which had got a presumably gratis trip to India. They repaid us with a sniff.
The most nose-worthy approbation of the spectacle was a new article published on columbiasurgery.org, the digital arm of Columbia University’s Irving Medical Center, which deals with plastic surgery, and lifts its information from the website of the Association of Plastic Surgeons of India and a 2011 YouTube video on the Sushruta Samhita.
According to the Ivy League university’s website, “During the 6th Century BCE, an Indian physician named Sushruta – widely regarded in India as the ‘father of surgery’ – wrote one of the world’s earliest works on medicine and surgery. The Sushruta Samhita documented the etiology of more than 1,100 diseases, the use of hundreds of medicinal plants, and instructions for performing scores of surgical procedures – including three types of skin grafts and reconstruction of the nose. Skin grafts entail transplanting pieces of skin from one part of the body to another. Sushruta’s treatise provides the first written record of a forehead flap rhinoplasty, a technique still used today, which a full-thickness piece of skin from the forehead is used to reconstruct a nose. At that time, patients in need of that procedure generally included those who had lost their noses as punishment for theft or adultery.”
Um. I hoped they used gloves. Or would that be cheating?