On researching this on the internet, several things about this report struck me as remarkable:
1. BBC reported this item on 29 April 2010 by video.
But it had also reported on this man in 2003.
Even then, the reports claimed that he had survived with food and drink for seventy years. So what was the point of recycling this same news seven years later?
2. Scientists seem to be interested in studying Jani to acquire knowledge about how the human body can stay without food and water for extended periods of time, so that they can use this knowledge to equip space travellers. Assuming that scientists have been studying this man since 2003, that's an awfully long time to study a single subject and get no closer to an answer. Jani is reportedly being studied in a lab run by the DRDO, whether with his consent or not is not known. Can you see the MBM (Mera Bharat Mahaan) types salivating at the propitious confluence of the ancient and the modern sciences. Yogbal for space explorers - the mind boggles!
3. A third of the Indian population suffers from chronic starvation. The reasons are well-known, and not matters of opinion. But with honourable exceptions like P Sainath and Jean Dreze, there's hardly anyone expressing concern about starvation deaths in the media. In fact, despite years of drawing attention to the problem, activists continue to face indifference to it on a scale that might even be called genocidal. When there are millions of lives at stake, and the facts are as widely available in the public domain as they are, what's the difference between prolonged and systematic neglect of relevant information, deliberate avoidance of action, and ıntentıonal design?
Yet what's the first thing our scientific community thinks of when the possibility presents itself to investigate the science underlying a painless form of starvation that doesn't cause needless suffering (assuming that there isn't something deeply deceptive and fraudulent going on)? Not the relief of human suffering, but the appropriation of knowledge for the glorification of the state.
4. Unless Jani can find a way of extracting enough energy from the air he inhales, his metabolic processes seem to defy a fundamental law of physics - specifically, the law of conservation of energy. Clearly, he is consuming energy to stay alive. So where is it coming from?
5. Given how dubious this entire phenomenon appears to be, can we afford to spend our scientific resources on studying the mysterious survival, despite prolonged starvation, of a solitary hermit, for possible applications to interplanetary travel, when the far more horrendous problem of chronic starvation continues to shame the country?