NEW DELHI: Question Darwin’s theory of evolution as “no one has seen an ape turn into a man” and become the honoured chief guest of the prestigous ‘Science Day’ organised by the Indian National Science Academy and the Indian Academy of Sciences.

“Darwin’s theory (of evolution of humans) is scientifically wrong. It needs to change in school and college curriculum. No one has seen an ape turn into a man. Since man was seen on Earth he has always been a man.” Junior Union Minister for Human Resource Development Satyapal Singh had astounded the scientific community with these remarks, but is clearly seen as a qualification to be the chief guest at this prestigious event.

After his remarks had kicked up a furore, Minister Prakash Javadekar had intervened to say that Singh had been asked not to make such comments. RSS/BJP leader Ram Madhav had, however, openly supported Singh and clearly this has prevailed.

Singh, however, had stood by his remarks maintaining, ““Darwin’s theory is being challenged the world over. Darwinism is a myth. If I’m making a statement I can’t make it without a basis ... I am a man of science, I’m not coming from an Arts background ... I have completed my Ph.D. in Chemistry from Delh University.” At least 1800 scientists wrote to Singh challenging his claim and pointing out, “it is factually incorrect to state that the evolutionary principle has been rejected by the scientific community. On the contrary, every new discovery adds support to Darwin’s insights.”

That Singh had the support of the establishment became clear when shortly after the became clear almost immediately after his remarks, the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (Pune) included a question in its paper worth two marks. The question giving credence to the bizarre views read, “ The minister of state for Human Resource Development [MHRD] in India recently claimed that the Darwinian theory of evolution is wrong because “Nobody, including our ancestors, in writing or orally, have said they saw an ape turning into a man”. What is wrong with this argument? NOTE: This question is NOT asking why biologists believe evolution to be correct. It is asking why the quoted argument cannot be correct in terms of disproving the Darwinian theory of evolution.

The comment by Singh had elicited humour and criticism on the social media as well at the time. The letter signed by leading scientists and others further read, “When a minister working for the human resource development in the country makes such claims, it harms the scientific community’s efforts to propagate scientific thoughts and rationality through critical education and modern scientific research.It also diminishes the image of the country at the global level and reduces faith of the international historical research community in the genuine research by the Indian researchers.”

However, clearly this is seen as balderdash by the government and the establishment with Science Day, an event giving a platform to leading scientists and innovative lectures in memory of Dr Raja Ramanna now giving pride of place to Singh who wanted to know that if indeed Darwin’s theory was true how come no one had witnessed the ape to man transformation.He is the former Mumbai Police Commissioner.