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Ram Setu ancient engineering marvel, Ramesh Pokhriyal tells IIT students

HRD Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal said that Ram Setu built by Indian engineers in ancient times astonishes the entire world

By The Telegraph in New Delhi

  • Published 27.08.19, 9:57 PM
  • Updated 27.08.19, 9:57 PM
Union HRD minister Ramesh Pokhriyal being presented a memento by Sanjiv Goenka, industrialist and chairman of the board of governors at IIT Kharagpur on August 27.
Union HRD minister Ramesh Pokhriyal being presented a memento by Sanjiv Goenka, industrialist and chairman of the board of governors at IIT Kharagpur on August 27. PTI

The Ram Setu is a ancient engineering marvel that astonishes the world even today, HRD minister Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank told graduating students of IIT Kharagpur, one of the country's oldest campuses for technical education.

More astonished than the rest of the world were, perhaps, the young graduates, from whom the minister sought repeated affirmation, asking: “Is it right? Is it right? Please tell me, why are you silent?”

Pokhriyal, who likes to go back to ancient India and dig up imagined feats of science, is in charge of education at all levels by virtue of being the HRD minister. 

The minister was addressing students at the 65th convocation of the institute when he said that the rock formation between Sri Lanka and India was an engineering feat from ancient India. “This is an engineering institute and will anybody be in two minds here about the proficiency of our engineers in the ancient times, who built the Ram Setu? Was it built by engineers from US, Britain, and Germany? Ram Setu was built by our engineers and it astonishes the world even today,” Pokhriyal said during his address and instead of an encouraging applause, which he was anticipating, met with silence.

“Is it right? Is it right? Please tell me, why are you silent?” the minister asked, prodding the students to agree, or may be clap.

According to Encyclopaedia Britannica, the Ram Setu, also known as the Adam’s Bridge, is a chain of limestone shoals, submerged in the water which forms a link between the island of Mannar in northwest Sri Lanka and Rameshwaram, the peninsular tip of India.

According to ancient Indian myth, the setu or bridge was built by Lord Ram when he took his army across the sea to fight Ravana, who had abducted Ram's wife Sita. 

The Congress-led UPA government had filed an affidavit in 2007 with the Supreme Court, challenging the veracity of the myth and claiming that the structure was not man-made but “comprised 103 small patch reefs lying in a linear pattern with reef crest, sand cays and intermittent deep channels”.

The affidavit was later withdrawn by the government after the claim snowballed into a controversy and Opposition parties accused the government of hurting Hindu religious sentiments.

The attempt to show the structure as an ancient engineering marvel is not Pokhriyal's first such utterance. 

At a program at IIT Bombay recently, he said Charaka— seen as the father of surgery by some— the first one to theorise on the concept of the atom. According to western history, it was Democritus — born more than a century before Charaka — who is attributed with the philosophy of the atom.

Later in IGNOU at another event, the minister attempted to correct himself, but ended up attributing the concept of the atom to Rishi Kanada, said to be born between 6th and 2nd century BC.   

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