This article from 2002 written by Sagarika Ghose gave me cancer

Sagarika Ghose is a person best ignored, especially if you value reason and your own sanity. But once in a while, there comes along an article that is so painfully stupid that the itch to respond must get the better of us. And so it was that amid all the chatter of the Presidential election, I stumbled upon this 2002 article from the Hindustan Times that attacks… guess what?

Now, we all know that a lot of nonsense has been written in and about 2002, but I swear that this is truly a new one. Would you believe that an elite journalist published an essay attacking science itself and the scientists who make it possible?

And what was the trigger for such an outburst? The trigger was the candidacy of Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam in the 2002 Presidential elections.

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Quick question : If you had a chance to meet Dr. Kalam, what would you do?

I would try to learn something from him. Even if I don’t understand the details of technology, I would try to learn from his life, his zeal, his hard work and dedication. I like to believe that most of the country would say pretty much the same. There are a million things we can learn from him.

But then, there is Lutyens’ Delhi and there is the rest of the country. No sir, the denizens of Lutyens’ Delhi have nothing to learn from Dr. Kalam. Instead, they arrogantly offer to teach him stuff.

What would the denizens of Lutyens’ Delhi teach Dr. Kalam? About “tolerance” of course.

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Again, let me ask you this : if you met Dr. Kalam, how would you address the great man? Probably with a  humble “Sir” or maybe even “Respected Sir”. But as Sagarika Ghose mocks us, we are just members of the “Great Indian Public”, with all our silly reverence for knowledge. She is not one of us and I am sure she sees it as a great honor. So, she calls him “Bomb Daddy”.

Why should the Great Indian Public be thrilled about Bomb Daddy? Elite journos on the other hand, only get excited about truly worthy people (tweet compilation by Mediacrooks)

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Ms. Sagarika Ghose then proceeds to give Dr. Kalam a real scolding about the supposedly VIP treatment that she thinks atomic scientists receive. In doing so, she also makes some truly puzzling allegations against Indians in general for …. umm, er … loving science! Apparently, it has something to do with all of the following : (1) Casteism (2) Sexism (3) Hindu fundamentalism.

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????

Don’t tell me to make sense of this extract. I didn’t write that article. She did.

But I guess she has some kind of problem with atomic scientists leading “pampered lives” where they are ferried back and forth to spotless labs. Supposedly, it makes them “loftily distant from the dirty masses”.

On the other hand, in this picture below you can see an elite journalist toiling at the grassroots, far from the lofty lifestyle of atomic scientists.

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Perhaps she wants the government to stop “pampering” atomic scientists. The government could use the money  to ferry elite journalists back and forth in the Prime Minister’s official aircraft.

Next come a bunch of sentences that I never thought any rational person would write in his/her lifetime.

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Science is compatible.. even “particularly compatible” with religious fundamentalism? Science creates an “orthodox and extremist mentality”?

What? If you really love your “humanities” subjects so much, at least read them. Throughout history, science has not created orthodoxy, science has always demolished it! Read history or at least use some common sense.

And then, a reminder to all science enthusiasts out there that Osama bin Laden studied engineering. I guess terror finally has a religion to which it can be successfully linked. It’s not called Islam, but science and engineering…

The article comes to an end with a stern warning to Dr. Kalam about the importance of “tolerance”. I guess she is saying that Lutyens is ready to make peace with Dr. Kalam as long as Bomb Daddy promises to be a good boy and not turn into another Osama bin Laden!

Folks, the reason for reading this old article is not the comic value. Nor the embarrassment that it would cause today to elite journalists. It is to remind the Great Indian Public what your brain looks like on liberalism. Don’t do liberalism or you will become intoxicated like “Udta Lutyens”. Liberalism di maa di!

Abhishek Banerjee is a math lover who may or not be an Assistant Professor at IISc Bangalore.

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