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Tuesday, August 14, 2001

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Legitimisation of Vedic mathematics, astrology opposed

By Our Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI, AUG. 13. With `saffronisation of education' slated to come up for discussion in the Lok Sabha on Tuesday, scientists from across the country today sought to explain the rationale of their objection to the introduction of Vedic Mathematics in the school curriculum and Vedic Astrology at the university level.

Viewing the introduction of Vedic Mathematics and Vedic Astrology as part of the larger bid to promote a ``particular brand of religious majoritarianism and associated obscurantist ideas'', the scientists said all teaching and pedagogy must be founded on rational, scientific and secular principles.

The former Chairman of the University Grants Commission, Prof. Yashpal, said such steps in the field of education could lead to ``Talibanisation'' of a different kind.

Coming together under the banner of the Safdar Hashmi Memorial Trust, the scientists said at a press conference here that the ``so-called Vedic Mathematics is neither vedic or Mathematics''.

While some of the scientists were present at the press conference, five aired their views through teleconferencing and many expressed solidarity with the cause by signing a statement titled `Stop this fraud on our children'.

The imposition of Vedic Mathematics would condemn children - particularly, those dependent on public education - to a sub- standard mathematical education.

They demanded that the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) submit its proposal for introduction of Vedic Mathematics in the school curriculum for scientific scrutiny by any of the recognised bodies of mathematical experts in the country.

About astrology, the scientists took the position that it belongs to the realm of belief and is best left a part of personal faith. ``Acts of faith cannot be confused with the study and practice of science in the public sphere.''

As to whether they objected to the study of astrology as a whole or the study of the subject as a science, Prof. Rahul Roy of the Indian Statistical Institute, Delhi, said he was against the introduction of any course that was not based on rational thought.

Prof. Yashpal said ``no self-respecting university would accept courses on astrology'', and informed the gathering that the West Bengal Government had decided not to introduce the course in any of its colleges.

Critical of the effort to legitimise such courses - which are outdated and have no place in the educational mainstream - by attaching the word `Vedic' to them, he countered the claim of astrology being a Vedic science by stating that it was an import from outside.

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