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Clarify NASA's stance on Sanskrit.

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"Sanskrit is a scientific language."

"Sanskrit is the best language for computer programming."

"NASA to use Sanskrit as a programming language."

"NASA to echo Sanskrit in space."

"The NASA website also confirms it's Mission Sanskrit..."

 

Those are article titles and snippets often listed when one looks up "Sanskrit" on their favourite search engine. They're flooded with websites that posit without any scope of plausible deniability that NASA is very involved in Sanskrit studies. They make claims that the US actively urges their young to learn Sanskrit and that American kids were imparted Sanskrit lessons after "Sanskrit experts refused to offer help in the scientific concept of the language" apparently.

Of all the claims, the most baffling one is that NASA had been working on a project called "Mission Sanskrit" because the people at NASA are supposedly of the opinion that Sanskrit is the best language for computer programming. This is something that could be fact checked in under a minute and found to be false but that doesn't seem to be happening.

Sure, the internet is filled with hoaxes and I think most people will agree with me in that the best way to catch a hoax is to be tricked into believing in them once or twice and learning to see the pattern in what eventually becomes a series of obvious falsehoods. However, in this particular case, for most people who were conned into believing in the prowess of this ancient nigh dead language, this is not just a matter of discovering they were wrong about it. People have a strong sense of belongingness with Sanskrit and they will uncritically assimilate anything good that is said about the language. This is not helped by the fact that it appears to them that an organisation, known for its great strides in the fields of aeronautics and astronautics, seems to support those claims.

This would not have been a serious problem if the hoax remained confined in the minds of the believers, who would all individually, in their own private moments of curiosity, come to find out the truth about it sooner or later. But these lies have repeated so many times, that people can no longer realistically come to nip it in the bud. It has turned into a feedback loop with the source being a figurative echo chamber of websites that simply affirm without linking to their sources of that supposed information.

This has got so severe, we have politicians claiming that Sanskrit is necessary for computer literacyNASA plans on using Sanskrit for their computers, and that the US and UK teach their children Sanskrit. We often hear about Sanskrit learning being made a mandatory subject for some bizarre reason.

A more recent bout of utter idiocy comes in the form of Smriti Irani requesting IITs - the most sought after institutes for engineering in India - to teach Sanskrit because of some misguided notion that it might help uncover scientific discoveries documented in Sanskrit literature.

There, of course, have been articles by rational thinkers, here and there, who have attempted to right this wrong by showing that the claims about Sanskrit just don't hold up to scrutiny. They often get dismissed by the believers with many of them accusing the writers of racism, anti-nationalism, jealousy and hatred of Sanskrit and India. They could repeatedly mention that there is no evidence NASA has ever pursued anything with regard to Sanskrit, with no tangible effect other than seeing their articles shared among the reasonable ones in the crowd. There is only one way I see out of this mess and that is for NASA to make a statement about this matter and put it to rest once and for all.

I know NASA has a lot on its plate and it isn't the best use of their time to take a break from innovating in order to clarify that the outrageous claims made about them are hoaxes. I, however, do not want people believing that this organisation is pursuing obvious dead ends. I believe it is the brightest of the bright that get to work there and at this point I cannot stand propaganda being pushed in their name. NASA has the final say in whether or not the claims about them are true and I think they should make the real truth about them known.

NASA, please make a statement about your stance on Sanskrit and whether or not it is or has been actively pursued by your organisation.



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