1./ A thread on why science denial really matters. India is a tragic lesson in how denying facts will always prove deadly; in the end. Here's how Modi's life-long love affair with irrational extremism is at the root of the country's spiralling death toll. https://www.dw.com/en/why-are-covid-cases-surging-in-india/a-57300436
2./ Modi's image in the West as a modernising leader has always seemed bizarre given the allegations of his involvement in the murder of Muslims during inter-communal riots. As BJP governor of Gujarat state he did nothing to halt the violence. https://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/16/world/asia/16iht-letter16.html
3./ But Modi's party has an even darker legacy; emerging out of the paramilitary RSS founded in the 1920s in imitation of Mussolini's fascists. The party's openly racist ideology, Hindutva, has changed little since then. Gandhi was shot by an RSS member. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/feb/20/hindu-supremacists-nationalism-tearing-india-apart-modi-bjp-rss-jnu-attacks
4./ Hindutva suggests Indians are a super-race with an ancient culture that surpasses the discoveries of modern technology or science. This leads to absurd claims such as for example, aeroplanes being first invented in ancient India.
5./ Modi himself has claimed modern genetics were also invented by the ancient Indians. He even suggests that Ganesha, the elephant-headed god, proves India must have mastered complex plastic surgery thousands of years ago. Uh huh.
6./ When politicians claim ancient Indian texts are the last word in scientific genius it undermines the critical approach of modern science. Modi's science minister Harsh Vardhan even argues there are equations in the ancient Vedas that surpass those of Einstein. There aren't.
7./ Then there's medicine. There's no evidence to back Ayurvedic medicine as effective. Yet from the start of the pandemic claims have been supported by the BJP that both Ayurvedic medicine and yoga were life-savers. https://jmedicalcasereports.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s13256-020-02624-1
8./ We in the West often see yoga as just part of a healthy lifestyle. In India it's highly politicised. Indeed it was the deeply reactionary and homophobic yogi guru Baba Ramdev who helped propel Modi's rise to power. Modi is one of his adherents. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/26/magazine/the-billionaire-yogi-behind-modis-rise.html
9./ Ramdev hosts huge mass yoga rallies for his adherents. One of India's biggest celebrities, he claims Western medicine is laced with toxins and has built a vast company called Patanjali that manufactures "safer" Ayurvedic alternatives. https://www.reuters.com/investigates/special-report/india-modi-ramdev/
10./ Shortly after Modi's election the BJP created a Ministry to promote both yoga and Ayurveda. Patanjali has had regular BJP public backing for its products. Last year the company launched a COVID cure called Coronil, despite providing no evidence. https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/coronil-all-you-need-to-know-about-ayurvedic-medicine-which-claims-to-cure-covid-19/story-8a9dbpbEfPLQY5CIxTR8aP.html
11./ Patanjali was criticised but in February this year it relaunched Coronil claiming it now had WHO backing (it didn't). At the launch, the BJP's Health Minister claimed Coronil was 100% effective as a cure. The Indian Medical Association was outraged. https://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2021/feb/22/covid-19-ima-shocked-over-patanjalis-coronil-claim-demands-explanation-from-health-minister-2267349.html
12./ Giridhar Babu, a professor of epidemiology pointed out "These kind of messages give a false sense of security". If people believe there's a cure for COVID, why worry? Complacency was also fuelled by the BJP constantly proclaiming its "success". https://www.business-standard.com/article/current-affairs/india-s-fight-against-covid-19-driven-by-its-people-says-pm-modi-120062800072_1.htmlSo
13./ Since the autumn cases of COVID have been rising but Modi managed to escape any backlash. India was winning he claimed. The feel good factor was underlined by the rushed approval of a local Indian manufactured vaccine. https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2021/01/scientists-criticize-rushed-approval-indian-covid-19-vaccine-without-efficacy-data
14./ Scientists point out the Bharat vaccine uses an adjuvant (a chemical meant to increase immune response) that's never been in a vaccine before. To approve it without Phase 3 trials is risky since it's not possible to rule out the adjuvant making symptoms worse not better.
15./ Huge rallies have long been a staple of Indian democracy but for Modi they're critical. He never does interviews. Facing hugely important state elections he threw himself into crowded and unmasked rallies of 800 000 and more. https://english.alarabiya.net/News/world/2021/03/07/Huge-crowd-fetes-India-PM-Narendra-Modi-at-rally-for-key-state-poll
16./ This was perhaps Modi's clearest and most defiant example yet of ignoring science. Critics complained it "created an illusion of normality". The video posted on the Prime Minister's twitter account was terrifying in its lack of social distancing. https://twitter.com/i/broadcasts/1djGXqnLzjdJZ
17./ The rallies tho are just the culmination of the BJP's long flirtation with philistine nationalism and irrationality. No more than India invented the aeroplane is there a chance the Ganges will protect you from a coronavirus as the BJP speculated. https://theprint.in/health/can-gangajal-treat-covid-19-modi-govt-wants-a-study-icmr-says-no/415365/
18./ And just how worrying is it that the Defence Minister in charge of nuclear armed forces....argues reciting poetic verses will protect people from the virus? This was his message to Lucknow one of the country's worst affected cities. https://www.nationalheraldindia.com/india/defence-minister-rajnath-singh-says-reciting-ramcharitmanas-will-work-as-a-medicine-against-covid-19
19./ Don't imagine these examples are random expressions of religious faith. From the beginning of Modi's rule scientific institutions and experts have been under assault by the BJP and its activists. Its student wing has hounded rationalist opponents. https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/guest-blog/india-s-government-is-becoming-increasingly-antiscience/
20./ The BJP has provided a violently patriotic mood music that slams criticism of the country, its history or Hindutva ideology. This has fired up extremism. Secular critics of Hindutva have been murdered, including the prominent journalist Gauri Lankesh. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/08/world/asia/india-lankesh-kalburgi-gun.html
21./ The BJP silenced criticism, concocted an "Indian" success story and promoted irrational nonsense. They've proved, yet again, you can deny science only for so long. Now ordinary Indians, by the thousand, are paying the price for the BJP's lies. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/apr/23/delhi-hospitals-run-out-of-oxygen-as-india-covid-crisis-mounts
23./ Bizarrely, Ramdev was allowed to help buy the Scottish island of Little Cumbrae where a yoga centre promotes his ideas. The Trust goes into Scottish schools to promote yoga. I'm all for yoga; I just prefer it without homophobia. https://www.pypt.org/index.html
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