Outrage as Centre Announces Decision to Name Biotech Institute After RSS Ideologue

Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan has written to Union minister Harsh Vardhan asking to instead name the institute after someone associated with science.

New Delhi: The Centre’s decision to name the new campus of a biotechnology institute in Kerala after an ideologue of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh has invited protests from the state government and its opposition party too.

Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan has urged the Union government to reconsider naming the second campus of the Rajiv Gandhi Centre for Biotechnology at Thiruvananthapuram after M.S. Golwalkar.

Vijayan has written to Union minister Harsh Vardhan, asking him to name the institution after a person with some contribution to science, and who is recognised worldwide.

Harsh Vardhan had announced at the India International Science Festival’s curtain raiser that the new campus would be named ‘Shri Guruji Madhav Sadashiv Golwalkar National Centre for Complex Disease in Cancer and Viral Infection’.

Golwalkar is considered among the first who shaped the ideals of Hindutva that the Bharatiya Janata Party is keen to implement. His writings are vast but do not deal with science.

The RGCB, which was initially run by the state government, was handed over to the Union government with the aim of developing it into a centre of international standards in research and development.

“The institute is a premier research institution and has been above political divides,” Vijayan said in the letter.

LDF convener and CPI(M) state secretary A. Vijayaraghavan said this was yet another example of the BJP’s efforts to “communalise everything.”

Dr Palpu

Thiruvananthapuram MP Shashi Tharoor and leader of the opposition in the assembly Ramesh Chennithala also came out against the decision.

Tharoor, in a series of tweets, asked whether the Centre wanted to “memorialise a bigoted Hitler-admirer, who in a 1966 speech to VHP, asserted the supremacy of religion over science?”

Tharoor suggested the institution be named after Dr Palpu, a renowned bacteriologist and social reformer, born in Thiruvananthapuram in 1863.

Palpu was an expert in serum therapy and tropical medicine from Cambridge and Director of the Vaccine Institute and Fellow of the Royal Institute of Public Health, Tharoor said.

The Dr. Palpu College of Arts and Science is also named after the social reformer.

Senior CPI leader and former minister Mullakkara Ratnakaran has also suggested the name of Dr Palpu for the institution, saying “he fought against casteist abuse of the downtrodden while providing his services to the medical sector.”

In contrast, “There is no other person in the history of this country who has spread so much hatred,” Ratnakaran said.

(With PTI inputs)