Scientists oppose move to introduce astrology courses
By Our Staff Reporter
BANGALORE, APRIL 19. The University Grants Commission's (UGC) proposal to introduce vedic astrology and vastushastra courses has drawn criticism from scientists across the country.
Though the UGC Chairman, Mr. Hari Gautam, chose to defend the proposal by saying that ``the Nobel laureate, Sir C.V. Raman, had called astrology a science'', it did not help resolve the differences.
Scientists have been dismayed by Mr. Gautam's statement. Prof. S. Ramaseshan, renowned physicist and Sir Raman's nephew, in a letter to The Hindu, said: ``I am extremely disturbed and saddened to find that his (Raman's) name is now being invoked to defend the introduction of such courses.''
``Based on my long association with Prof. Raman, I categorically deny this assertion. Prof. Raman was against astrology and other similar forms of obscurantism. He held that astrology had no rational basis. He would have been outraged to learn that the UGC wants to introduce astrology courses. I take this opportunity to set the public record straight.''
Prof. Ramaseshan said: ``The controversy must now be buried and focus turned on the real issue - how to make our youngsters think rationally.''
Scientists from leading institutions expressed their ire over the UGC proposal. As many as 38 scientists from the Raman Research Institute here called the proposal a ``retrograde step''.
Several senior faculty from the Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics (IUCAA), including the IUCAA Director, Prof. Jayant V. Narlikar, have signed an appeal urging the UGC to ``reconsider'' its decision.
The scientists stated that ``neither astrology's basic assumptions nor its predictions conform to the rigorous discipline that science demands. To project the subject as vigyan is therefore misleading. That astrology makes us familiar with time, its nature, feature and its effect on human life and other events and helps us manage and make optimal utilisation of time, is largely unsubstantiated. It is unfortunate that the studies in this subject are sought to be linked to another pseudo science that goes by the name of vastushastra today.''
``If vedic astrology is to be promoted as a subject relevant to our heritage, it could be included as part of ancient Indian studies rather than projecting it as vigyan,'' they said.
The IUCAA intends to send copies of the appeal to the Prime Minister, Mr. A.B. Vajpayee, and the Minister for Human Resource Development, Dr. Murli Manohar Joshi.