Astrology event at IISC cancelled after protests

A two-day workshop on astrology that was scheduled to be held at the premier Indian Institute of Science (IISc) next month has been cancelled following stiff opposition from the faculty, alumni and rationalists.

Organised by the IISc Alumni Association, the workshop titled ‘Astrology as a Scientific Tool for Individual Progress’ was slated to be held at the IISc Choksi Hall. After receiving flak from various quarters, the Association on Saturday said it will not go ahead with the event. Interestingly, the workshop was to have been convened by IISc Alumni Association executive council member M S Rameshaiah, who is also a member of the Indian Council of Astrological Sciences. A brochure was also published with details of how the public could register to participate in the workshop.

“This is profoundly shocking and, frankly, incredible,” a section of the IISc alumni wrote to IISc director Anurag Kumar, urging him not to allow the workshop to be conducted. “Astrology is a system of belief that has no scientific basis,” the alumni argued. “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.”

IISc Alumni Association vice-president Omprakash Subbarao said there was a “lapse” within the association that led to this. “There was a proposal to conduct the workshop. It was mooted by two members. It did not go through the approval process,” he said. “It is not that the association subscribes to the idea. It is ridiculous. This institute has had people like C V Raman, C N R Rao and Roddam Narasimha. We’re not going ahead with the event,” he added.

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