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Why I Cannot Accept ‘Anti-Scientific’ Baba Ramdev Speaking At JNU’s Science Conference

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By Shehla Rashid Shora

The silent right-wing onslaught on JNU continues. It is very unfortunate to know that the Jawaharlal Nehru University, a co-organiser in the ’22nd International Congress of Vedanta’ being held in JNU’s Convention Center from 27th to 30th December 2015 has allowed “Baba” Ramdev to be invited as a keynote speaker in the Valedictory Ceremony to be held on the 30th of December. It does not befit the stature of an academic institution like JNU to have persons with such a questionable and shameful background to address an academic gathering.

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The first principle of science is freedom from bias and prejudice – be it Indian science or Western science. The person in question harbours extreme hatred, bias and prejudice against various minorities- religious minorities, gender and sexual minorities and also against the girl-child. All this is public knowledge and yet the JNU administration has gone ahead and consented to have a keynote address by him! He is not an academic or a man of science. His Doctorate is an honorary doctorate and not a regular PhD. earned by him. Of course, he is a practitioner, but not one without many problematic positions that JNU cannot afford to endorse, or be seen as endorsing.

baba ramdevHere are some of his regressive views that make him unfit to address a scientific gathering at JNU. This person says that the population of Muslims must be controlled and a special policy be created to check their alleged population increase!

He has called Rahul Gandhi’s visits to Dalit households as “honeymoon”, which is a deeply insensitive remark, considering the reality of sexual oppression that Dalit women have faced for centuries at the hands of the socially powerful.

Ramdev’s company Patanjali sells a medicine “Putrajeevak Beej” to ensure the birth of a male child. Ramdev has repeatedly decried same-sex relations, calling this preference a “disease” which can be cured by Yoga, and homosexual persons as “criminals”, thus inciting hatred for persons who identify as LGBT. While on the one hand, JNU, after repeated intervention of students and teachers, has started taking some progressive steps, such as allowing for self-identification of persons belonging to the third gender, making GSCASH inclusive for persons who bear a different gender or sexual identity, etc. inviting such a person to address a scientific gathering at JNU takes us several steps back. The point is not merely that he made these remarks, as these are only a handful of his media statements. The larger point is that this person professes a certain regressive ideology, which JNU cannot be party to.

Please note, that we do take an anti-imperialist stance, and, we do support a genuine inquiry into ancient Indian science and not an uncritical acceptance of Western science. This also means that Indian science should also not be accepted uncritically and that similar standards of rigour must be adhered to, in case of Indian science. One such principle is the principle of freedom from bias. In the name of ancient Indian science, persons like Ramdev cannot be allowed to spread regressive ideas in our progressive campus. His person embodies a certain mindset which is loaded with bias, and a scientific gathering should not be addressed by such a person. His views on Indian science are not academically driven, but are deeply ideologically grounded in a regressive and hegemonic understanding of what constitutes the “Vedic” way of life. If anything, his views are anti-scientific.

We urge the JNU administration and the other organisers of this conference to immediately cancel the keynote address or face a massive agitation.

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You must be to comment.
  1. Achal

    Really sad at these accusations which are not even backed by evidence. Let's show some tolerance to a person,
    who is responsible for reviving Yoga and Ayurveda back in India. Your article is just a reflection of your bigotry and ignorance.

  2. Suraj Godiyal

    This article is sort of retarded and full of anti national sentiments

  3. Freeexpressionftw

    You oppose GMOs and nuclear energy. You are 'anti-scientific' too. As for homophobia, Baba Ramdev represents the proletarian view on homosexuality. We need to engage with them and change their mind instead of no-platforming them.

  4. Srinivas

    Freedom of Speech, expression, only exist for the history twisting, facts denying,
    hypocrite Commies. For the rest, they dispense it in doses and with different rationale
    they feel fits their sense of justice.

  5. Ankur

    Excellent article

  6. MTR

    Please have a a look at this http://www.dalailama.com/messages/buddhism/science-at-the-crossroads
    Does Dalai Lama hold an academic PhD or he a neuroscientist? You can search across several society for Neuroscience meetings and see who are all gave the key note addresses there. Just being a scientist will not deliver the goods to society unless you actually understand the society itself. You will learn a lot by this way.

  7. puneet

    typical left libbers,only noise zero evidence.

  8. 0bserver

    The writer is an insanely bigoted person and seems to have a strong sense of identification with her religion/community. “honeymoon” was not a sexual innuendo, but a reference to a brief period. “Putrajeevak” is a unisex term like Man for Human. If he is of the opinion that same sex relationship is a disease, then he is free to say so. At least he did not issue a Fatwa to kill them all, he is a very moderate person. JNU is not your personal property and Ramdev Baba is an asset to the society unlike the writer who seems to be a career politician wannabee.

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