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  • Voltaire Staff

Scientists' body demands removal of NCERT modules on Chandrayaan

Image Courtesy: Unsplash

A collective of scientists' bodies has called for removal of recently added modules on India's Chandrayaan-3 mission in NCERT books over their containing several apparent factual and grammatical errors.

All India Peoples Science Network, or AIPSN, a collective of more than 40 science organisations, in a statement took exception to "many scientific and technical errors occur" in these modules, as well to the glorification of a rocket science pioneer, who associated with the Nazis in his youth and helped build missiles for Germany during the World War II.

The group highlighted several claims in the modules meant for students across classes – from kindergarten to secondary classes – and appended to them its own rebuttals.

A part of the textbook meant for grade 6-8, which the group dismissed as "unscientific," read: " Literature tells us that it can be traced back through Vymaanika Shastra: ‘Science of Aeronautics’, which reveals that our country had the knowledge of flying vehicles in those days."

The AIPSN asserted that the Vymaanika Shastra was a scientific fiction with a vintage no earlier than the early 20th century.

"It has been conclusively shown through research that the origin of the much touted Vymaanika Shastra text can only be traced to the early 20th century and the designs, engines and instruments described in it are completely imaginary, unscientific and useless," it said.

This is not the first time the controversial text has found backers among the Indian academics, some of whom referred to it as an ancient text presaging modern aeronautics even at the 2015 India Science Congress.

The AIPSN also pointed out as "mischaracterisation" the claim that the Chandrayaan-2 found "ice sheet" in lunar craters.

"This is total mischaracterisation of the scientific results. The mission confirmed the presence of water molecules. Moreover, 'Ice Sheet' refers to a thick layer of only ice, whereas the amount of water in lunar craters is too small to form ice sheets," it said in the statement issued on October 30.

The National Council for Educational Research and Training had last month taken off the modules from its website after it received flak from a section of the scientific community and educationists, but restored them days later after it found the backing of the central government.

The Union Education Ministry in its argument for the content said, "NCERT has meticulously crafted ten special modules on Chandrayaan-3 which offer a comprehensive overview of various facets of this mission, encompassing scientific, technological, cultural, and social aspects. Content within these modules has been thoughtfully designed to be interactive and engaging."

The AIPSN said that the NCERT's hailing Werner von Braun as a "visionary engineer" in one of the modules was an attempt to "whitewash the fact that von Braun was a Nazi scientist who built missiles V2 for Hitler."

"There is a clear danger that this wrong information will be transmitted to students as-is and cause real harm. Or worse: the content is so badly written that students will be put off this exciting field," said the AIPSN, as it called on scientific community and "rational" citizens to reject the "shoddily prepared material."


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