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

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Mendacity in Our Midst

Cultural observers like Ramanujan and Max Muller have implied that untruthfulness amongst Indians is prevalent because of its approval by ancient behaviour codes. Ramanujan also attributed a lack of universality in Indian thought to the same codes. While the ancient codes contain many assertions which would be considered problematic today, lack of universality is not one of them as far as preference for truthfulness is concerned. The only occasion wherein any of the ancient codes prefer lies to truth is when someone's life is at stake. The quantitative prevalence of untruthfulness in different groups can only be empirically estimated by carefully designed questionnaires or experimentally. To minimise getting answers that the respondents will assume are expected of them, the first investigations should deal with instances of petty untruthfulness, where the consequences are trivial.

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.
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