Controversy

A day after a US-based cancer research and treatment centre said that they were not sponsors for an international cancer conference organised by IIT Madras, it appears that Baba Ramdev who was to be the Chief Guest of the conference, has pulled out.

D Karunagaran, Head of the Department of Biotechnology at IIT Madras told The Indian Express, “We are informed that Ramdev won’t be attending the event. We hope that Acharya Balkrishna may be coming, though there has been no confirmation yet.”

Speaking to the newspaper, a Patanjali spokesperson said that although Ramdev will not be attending the programme, a representative of Patanjali would still go.

According to Prof Karunagaran, an international committee was instituted to pick the chief guest, and he himself had discovered Ramdev’s controversial comments a few days ago.

Controversial yoga instructor and businessman Ramdev has earlier claimed that yoga and medicines from his billion-dollar FMCG company, Patanjali, can cure cancer and AIDS, for which the scientific community has still not found a cure.

On February 4, health watchdog Retraction Watch had brought to the notice of MD Anderson Cancer Centre based in the University of Texas the use of the centre’s logo in promotional materials for the conference.

After being alerted by Retraction Watch, MD Anderson Cancer Centre tweeted from its official handle: “In the past, MD Anderson has sponsored this conference through its Global Academic Program. But this year, we’re not a sponsor. Our name and logo are being used without permission, and we’ve requested they be removed from promotional materials.”

However, Prof Karunagaran said he did have evidence to show that the MD Anderson Cancer Centre had in fact sponsored the event.

The research centre also clarified later that the two faculty members participating – Sen Pathak and V Gandhi – “are doing so on their personal time.”