Vijay Bhatkar to remain in RSS body

New Nalanda Chancellor says Vijnana Bharati stands for science like any other organisation

January 29, 2017 12:58 am | Updated 12:58 am IST - NEW DELHI

: Vijay Bhatkar, a computer scientist who was appointed Chancellor of Nalanda University on January 25, says he will continue to be president of Vijnana Bharati, an RSS-affiliated organisation established in 1990 that describes itself as a “...swadeshi movement with modern sciences adapted to national needs”.

Pune-based Dr. Bhatkar told The Hindu that he would be convening the first governing council meeting of the university next month but would also be involved with the Viswa Veda Vigyan Sammelan (World Vedic Science Conference), a once-in-four-years event to be held next January in Pune.

The conference, according to Dr. Bhatkar, brings in international scholars to discuss Vedic literature and sciences.

“Vijnana Bharati is a science association, like the Indian Science Congress Association or the Indian Academy of Sciences. It does not fund research and is by design about popularising science. Many reputed scientists such as (the late) Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam and Dr. Anil Kakodkar have been associated with it. There are some perceptions associated with it but we are as much for science as others [other organisations],” he told The Hindu in a conversation over the phone.

Vijnana Bharti waded into controversy in 2015 when, at the Indian Science Congress in Mumbai, it organised at the venue an exhibition of science models, including ancient rockets and electrolyte cells, inspired by Vedic texts.

Vedic science

Over there, Dr. Bhatkar and then Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar attended the inaugural session of a panel where a speaker proffered ‘evidence’ on how avionics technology and fighter planes were rife in the Vedic era.

Dr. Bhatkar said that Nalanda, being a liberal arts university, would have a strong focus on the history and philosophy of science but not solely from an Indian perspective.

“We need good faculty and students to research on the fundamentals of the artificial intelligence and deep learning [in computer science disciplines]. There’s a lot of work,” said Dr. Bhatkar, who was also, until last year, on the board of the Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi.

In the past, the Nalanda University’s eminent heads, Singapore’s former Foreign Minister George Yeo and Nobel Laureate, Amartya Sen, stepped down after complaining of government interference.

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