ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Science, Astrology, and Democratic Society

The proposal of the University Grants Commission (UGC) to start courses in astrology has drawn predictable responses. These have by and large opposed astrology because it is not ‘scientific’, thereby unthinkingly and uncritically valorise ‘science’ as it is practised and taught. Both the content and utility of science, in their arguments, are sacrificed at the altar of method and procedure. Astrology, it is being said, cannot be introduced in universities because they cannot meet the scientific standards of reliability, validity, and falsification among others. At the same time, the larger context in which astrology is located in Indian (read Hindu) society is ignored. This discussion is based on articles in the media, many written by leading scientists, criticising the UGC proposal.

Socio-Logic of AIDS Campaign

1997 (AIDS Day), commuters on both central and western railways in Mumbai were exposed to a barrage of messages regarding AIDS. All along the journey till Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus or Churchgate in south Mumbai, but with greater frequency from Dadar towards these two stations, are visible signs about AIDS in vivid blue on starkly white backgrounds. It is not inappropriate that these signs are in these colours. The messages they bear associate AIDS with hygiene. And hygiene in popular culture has the preferred hues of blue and white. Witness advertisements on the television frothy blue and white advertisements advertise whiteness and sparkle. Bottles of liquid, from Harpic to Robin Blue, bar soap and powdered detergent, from Surf to Ariel, all tend to be in these colours. The discourse of the state has here dipped into popular culture, multi-textured and alive, appropriating its available associations for its own message of the danger of AIDS.

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