Okay, okay, I know Al has been riddled with cheap shots over this and never claimed to be the inventor of the Internet. However, that apocryphal claim makes more sense than this one, recently made by Biplab Deb, the chief minister of the Indian state of Tripura. He insists that the Internet was invented thousands of years ago by ancient Indians.
And you thought President Trump saying that Andrew Jackson could have prevented the Civil War was bad!
“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.”
Just in case you think he was misunderstood. or mistranslated, Minister Deb doubled down, elaborating in a scholarly fashion, almost as if he weren’t certifiably off his rocker and so technologically ignorant that he makes Hillary Clinton look like Steve Jobs, in a more recent interview when asked about his earlier jaw-dropping comments:
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.
Jonathan Turley, to whom I am eternally grateful for flagging this wonderful story, concludes that “it raises serious questions over the state of Indian education.” Indeed it does, but the bright side is that it could enhance American education. What a perfect critical thinking test this is! Every high school student in the U.S. should be able to identify at least some of the multiple examples of logical fallacies, circular reasoning, bad analogies, rationalizations and more.
Then there’s this disturbing question: based on the level of technological understanding displayed by the U.S. Senate in their recent grilling of Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, how many of them are capable of making similar Techno-Assess of themselves?
By the way: did you know that Jesus invented the jet-ski?