Biplab Deb, who is the chief minister of the north-eastern state of Tripura, has become an international clown after claiming that the Internet was invented thousands of years ago by ancient Indians. He now competes as the world’s least intelligent person with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan who claimed that Muslims discovered America.
He has been the state president of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which is a right-wing party associated with Hindu nationalist Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. He took his oath as the 10th Chief Minister of Tripura in March and then made a fool of himself in April.
His evidence? He noted that the ancient Hindu epic Mahabharata involved a character who was able somehow to describe a battle many miles away. The answer? Hindus invented the Internet some 3000 years ago. Makes sense, right? Rather than question the 3000 year old Sanskrit poem and artistic license, it is easier to believe that the Internet was invented in the Bronze or early Iron periods. He declared skeptics to be “narrow-minded”:
“Narrow minded people find it tough to believe this. They want to belittle their own nation and think highly of other countries. Believe the truth. Don’t get confused and confuse others . . . India has been using internet since ages. In Mahabharata, Sanjay was blind but he narrated what was happening in the battlefield to Dhritarashtra anyway. This was due to internet and technology. Satellite also existed during that period . . . Some European countries and the US claim that the modern communication system were their invention, but we had all these technologies in ancient times.”
He did not back down after receiving ridicule around the globe. In a later interview when asked about the controversy, he stated:
Whether Mahabharat, Ramayana or Upanishad, these are the empirical texts of our culture. If a person sitting in a palace can narrate what is happening in a battlefield 50 km away, there must have been some technique. Ordinary eyes do not have the facility to see such things. This was a particular technology, in the name of Sanjaya, which is akin to the Internet of today. Now if some of my friends raise questions on proof, then I would say that the proof lies in the Internet technology of today. Those who cannot understand, and feel that to oppose they must run down Indian culture and civilisation and aggrandise Western culture, they are provoked by my statements.
For example, how did the Wright Brothers think up of aeroplanes? They watched birds fly and conceived of a technology that could make a plane that flew. Thus Sanjaya’s use of a technology that could see events far away proves the superiority of Indian civilisation. Those who do not believe in Rama will question his existence. In the time of Rama, there was the Sarayu river, now too it is there. I am born of my mother, why do I believe that, because my mother told me so.
If Deb wanted to prove the “superiority of Indian Civilization,” this is not the way. Instead, it raises serious questions over the state of Indian education.