Person of the Week: Vasudev Devnani


Person of the Week: Vasudev Devnani

Illustration: Mandar Mhaskar

That Indians love themselves some bovine goodness should come as no shock to anyone. You could be talking about a friend who has struck out with a girl, and get schooled in the benefits of milk for erectile dysfunction by a latent bhakt. We’ve heard about all kinds of cow “facts”: How its urine can cure renal failure, arthritis, cancer (wonder why nobody has tried that yet) and a host of other ailments.

But the one thing we were yet to hear was that cows are the only animals to both inhale and exhale oxygen. This breakthrough can be attributed to one man: Vasudev Devnani, lovér de la boviné and spouter of shitty science, who also believes that cows have a kind of aura that cures cough and cold.

This is a breakthrough, yes, but let’s acknowledge that there are a few issues here. Apart from Devnani being completely fucking wrong on both counts, there’s a little detail that makes the whole situation even scarier. Devnani is the education minister of Rajasthan, the guy responsible for what the kids of that state learn.

Let’s start with the obvious thing: Cows do not exhale oxygen. The minister was possibly referring to the fact that cow lungs are not capable of absorbing all the oxygen the cow inhales, and so a tiny amount is released. That they exhale only oxygen is a gross exaggeration. This argument also holds for all other mammals, including humans. This is all basic Grade VIII Biology –except “auras” which aren’t exactly scientific entities. It is currently unclear whether the minister believes cow breath can be used for life-saving equipment in hospitals.

It’s unbelievable how much money there is to be made off these desi bovine products, so I doubt these “facts” will stop emerging anytime soon.

Anyway, soon after cementing his status as the world’s worst academic, Devnani went on to provide no further details of this new claim, and instead referred randomly to a few “research websites” that he had been reading. And so, for teaching us to never trust a science graduate out of Rajasthan again, we are proud to declare Vasudev Devnani our Person of the Week. Mix up two parts of Hydrogen with one part of Cow Breath, because at this party, all you should dare drink is water.

Devnani first made his statement at the Hingonia Cow Rehabilitation Centre in Jaipur, a place that no scientist worth his NaCl should ever take seriously. The Hingonia Centre is apparently notorious for being the worst civic-run cow shelter in Jaipur, recording 30 cattle deaths a day.

Just when you thought Devnani was done, he went on to claim that cow dung blocks radiation (you’d need a really thick wall of shit to pull this one off). This isn’t a new claim: RSS and VHP members have been saying this for ages. One RSS associate has even said he rubs cow dung all over his cellphone to block out radiation. The bad news for his family is that he used the same hand to hug them later. The worse news is that this man is considered an “ideologue”. The worst news is that everybody forgot to inform the children of Chernobyl, Hiroshima, and Nagasaki.

Devnani and these other lovér de la boviné belong to a new generation of cowards (sorry, cowherds) who are happy talking bullshit in the comfort of their gaushalas than actually presenting any kind of empirical evidence. Literally, no proof. Not even an anecdote.

It’s unbelievable how much money there is to be made off these desi bovine products, so I doubt these “facts” will stop emerging anytime soon. Why blame Devnani alone? After all, we have established that the Indian Wright brothers flew planes 7,000 years ago, that kings from ancient India travelled to Mars, that lord Ganesh was the first case of cosmetic surgery.

Yet, silver linings. At least we are not in America, where Donald Trump’s pick for the education secretary believes guns are needed in schools to prevent grizzly attacks. Maybe they should try a gobar wall instead.