Minister ridiculed for saying ancient India invented internet

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Wall art of Sanjaya telling Dhritarashtra about the Mahabharata war in Ramakrishna math in HyderabadImage copyright Getty Images
Image caption The minister cited this example from the Hindu epic Mahabharata to prove his point

A minister who has claimed that the internet was invented thousands of years ago by ancient Indians is being met with ridicule.

Biplab Deb, who is the chief minister of the north-eastern state of Tripura, made the comments at a public function on Tuesday evening.

He cited an example from the ancient Hindu epic Mahabharata to prove his point, but has not found many takers.

“Tripura CM Biplap Deb” is trending on Twitter, with many Indians mocking him.

Mr Deb, in fact, joins a fairly long list of Indian ministers in the current Hindu nationalist BJP government – including Prime Minister Narendra Modi – who have claimed many modern-day scientific or technological achievements were invented many centuries ago.

In 2014 Mr Modi told a gathering of doctors and medical staff at a Mumbai hospital that cosmetic surgery existed in ancient India.

More recently, in September, junior education minister Satyapal Singh raised a few eyebrows when he claimed that the airplane was first mentioned in the ancient Hindu epic Ramayana.

Critics say that this is a dangerous trend:

Mr Deb said that the battle of Kurukshetra in the Mahabharata proved the existence of not just the internet, but also satellite technology in ancient India.

He said the fact that one of the characters in the epic, Sanjaya, had been able to give a blow-by-blow account of a battle that was taking place many miles away to his king Dhritarashtra proved India had access to both technologies.

This understandably raised more sceptical questions, including from professors of South Asian history:

Others had more “practical” concerns.

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