Students stage protest against astrology courses in varsities

PUNE: University Grants Commission chairman Hari Gautam, who on Wednesday faced protests from a group of students here, said that 20 universities in the country had been permitted to introduce courses in vedic astrology.

Dr Gautam addressed a press conference at the University of Pune campus and said that while 50 universities had applied for the course, the UGC had granted permission to 20 of these.

The course in Jyotirvigyan would be offered at various levels such as B.A., B.A. (Hons.), M.A. and Ph.D, he said, while adding that even British universities were keen on introducing such courses.

Dr Gautam was here to deliver the Swatantryaveer Sawarkar Lecture on the challenges in higher education.

Protesting students raised slogans against the UGC over its decision on the vedic astrology course. About ten students also gheraoed Dr Hari Gautam's car which resulted in mild caning by the university security. The students were later rounded up by the police. The UGC chairman justified the UGC's move to introduce the course in Jyotirvigyan while stating that there was a need for qualified astrologers in the country as a majority of the population consulted astrologers ``at some point or the other in their lives.''

``There are very few educated and qualified astrologers in the country,'' he said while adding that the availability of well-qualified and professional astrologers would help in meeting a genuine need of society.

Rejecting the criticism against the introduction of vedic astrology in universities, Dr Gautam said that the course in Jyotirvigyan was ``knowledge based.'' He said that the common Indian mentality was to reject and ridicule traditional knowledge systems. The same knowledge, however, was accepted with much fanfare once it was approved by Western society, he said.

Dr Gautam said that traditional Indian systems such as Yoga, and the concepts of ``chetana'' (consciousness) and ``atma'' (soul) were today accepted and hailed by Western science.

The tendency of Indians to accept their own knowledge systems after it was approved by the west was wrong, he said

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Referred by:Mukundan CM
Published on: July 24, 2001
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