(Published on October 31, 2015 in Business Standard)
Did you imagine, o people of India, that the key to creating jobs, improving infrastructure, and lifting people out of poverty, would be to discuss cows until they come home? Now half the country is traumatised by the thought of cow-murder, and the other half is posting ‘Selfie With Beef’ to their Facebook profiles. Did you imagine, fellow citizens, that you would suddenly know this many authors, artists, academics and artistes, even though they aren’t helping to fix banking or sort out labour laws?
But that’s just the media, slavishly anti-Modi (#Presstitutes) even though it was quite recently slavishly pro-Modi (#FreedomOfExpression). Luckily, the country and its institutions carry on. Among other things, we retain the rigorous scientific temper to which we constitutionally aspire, according to our anti-Hindu Nehruvian western import of a constitution (#WakeUpHindus).
The minister for Water Resources, River Development & Ganga Rejuvenation, Uma Bharti, has put scientists at the National Institute of Hydrology (NIH) in Roorkee on the job of figuring out where the river Ganga originates. We almost certainly know that the Ganga originates at Gaumukh, near Gangotri, if only because the NIH has an observatory nearby studying the river. There’s a ‘cow’ in ‘Gaumukh’. It all seems like a win. However, the minister thirsts to know if the river can be connected to the sacred lake Mansarovar in Tibet.
Mythology says that the great ascetic, Shiva, who lives there, broke Ganga’s furious descent to earth by catching her in his hair, and thus saved the earth from her raging floods. He held her in his matted locks, tamed her, and made her release her waters into seven streams, and if that’s not an ancient, proud Indian sex scene, I don’t know what is. In fact, I think there’s an exciting publishing opportunity in collating all the ancient proud Indian sex scenes from the scriptures and epics into a nicely designed little paperback series titled Spills & Boons, or Fills & Spoons or something.
At any rate, the minister isn’t going to take mythology’s word for it like some unscientific yob. Like all Taureans, she’s very determined. So the scientists are going to use water isotopes tracer technology to see if the Ganga can in any way be connected, via drifting molecules or whatever, to Mansarovar. Would proving this connection not give mythology the fillip it needs to create jobs, improve infrastructure, and lift people out of poverty? One of the NIH’s experts acknowledged, with magnificent restraint, that: “The new task is a challenging one as we are heading into a completely different direction.”
I have no idea what water isotopes tracer technology is. I think maybe it’s when scientists assemble in a lab equipped with cutting-edge dart boards and beer, and sit around playing cards and telling sociologist jokes for the duration of a reasonable science experiment, before releasing a statement saying, “Our results show that this has been a total hoot, and we would now like to apply for government funding to investigate the turning radius of Kartikeya’s peacock if it had to get away from Brahma’s pillar of fire at speed. Your turn to deal.”
I will say, though, that Uma Bharti’s is not the stupidest scientific experiment I’ve heard of. That would have to be the experiment that showed that rats cannot differentiate between Dutch and Japanese sentences when a video is played backwards to them.
But I’m nitpicking. The truth is that I’ve always had a big thing for Shiva. He’s romantic perfection—passionate, powerful, unavailable, good dancer. It’s straight out of Thrills & Moon. I’m actually okay with the government throwing money at him; I’ll just pretend that I’m tucking it into his loincloth.