"Our intention was different. The context has not come out clearly in the communication and I understand the concerns of those opposing it."

After protests astrology workshop at IISc Bengaluru cancelledSheeju Chandran via Wikimedia Commons
news Superstition Sunday, October 29, 2017 - 08:59

An astrology workshop which was to be hosted at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc), Bengaluru, was cancelled after it faced stiff opposition from the current faculty members and former students of the premiere institution.

The event titled 'Astrology as a Scientific Tool for Individual Progress' was set to be held on November 25-26 at the IISc’s Choksi Hall by none other than the IISc Alumni Association with its executive council member MS Rameshaiah convening the event, media reports said. Rameshaiah also happens to be a member of the Indian Council of Astrological Sciences.

However, several other alumni had opposed this. “This is profoundly shocking and, frankly, incredible. Astrology is a system of belief that has no scientific basis. The repercussions of holding such a workshop are many. First, it is being organised by the IISc Alumni Association, which will be taken to imply that the alumni body supports astrology as a science. Second, it is being held in IISc campus, which will be taken as further proof that the scientific community of IISc agrees with astrology. It is obvious that allowing such a workshop to be held will do grave damage to the reputation and integrity of IISc as well as to already endangered scientific temper in the country,” an IISc alumni wrote to the institute’s director Anurag Kumar, reported Deccan Herald.

The Times of India reported that Breakthrough Science Society, an organisation advocating against pseudoscience came in support of the section of alumni who opposed the event.  

"A section of the IISc alumni has taken steps to guard scientific temper by writing a letter to Prof Anurag Kumar.We stand in full support of those who have started a signature campaign against the astrology workshop," the organisation said.

However, the association tried to defend the event saying that it was intended to make the country more science literate.

"Our intention was different. The context has not come out clearly in the communication and I understand the concerns of those opposing it," association president MP Ravindra told TOI.

IISc Alumni Association vice-president Omprakash Subbarao said permission for the event was not granted and the association does not endorse the idea.

“There was a proposal to conduct the workshop. It was mooted by two members. It did not go through the approval process. It is not that the association subscribes to the idea. It is ridiculous. This institute has had people like CV Raman, CN R Rao and Roddam Narasimha. We’re not going ahead with the event,” he told DH.

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