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Synergy on quake forecast

New Delhi, Aug. 3: The capital recently witnessed a strange meeting of minds — geologists set aside their equipment and maps and pored over planetary charts with astrologers.

A handful of geologists teamed up with astrologers at a three-day seminar here — Predicting Earthquakes and Calamities — to tell the world that astrology can make accurate predictions of natural calamities, something that science has not been able to.

“Geologists can tell us which part of the country is a seismic zone. But they cannot predict when these zones will get active,” said Brigadier (retd) S.C. Kukreja, director of the Institute of Astrological Study and Research. He cited numerous instances, among them the earthquakes in 1993 at Latur and in 2001 in Gujarat, as proof of their accurate predictions.

On January 7, 2001, Babaji, a magazine on astrology, “predicted” the Gujarat earthquake that devastated several parts of the state 19 days later. According to astrologers, the “killer earthquake occurred due to the planetary configurations operating at the time of the New Moon (that) occurred on January 24, 2001, at 18.37 hours in Delhi”. Astrologer and Babaji editor Lachhman Das Madan, who chaired the seminar sessions, claimed he could foretell the onset of a disaster.

The meeting of science and could-be science was blessed by Delhi’s ruling elite. Messages had come from President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, Vice-President Bhairon Singh Shekhawat and Opposition leader Sonia Gandhi.

Human resources development minister Murli Manohar Joshi, a believer in astrology, was present at Friday’s inauguration while law minister Arun Jaitley had promised to give certificates to the participants after the seminar ended. BJP MP S.S. Ahluwalia had also confirmed his participation.

“We should include astrology in the school curriculum. If a VIIth standard student can be taught Physics, Chemistry, then why not astrological science as well'” asked Jawaharlal Thussu, geologist and a former official of the Geological Survey of India. He was reflecting the opinion of Joshi, their strongest patron, who has convinced the University Grants Commission (UGC) to initiate courses in astrology in universities.

Participants, however, said not many in the scientific community are buying the star-readers’ deductions. Harsh Gupta, secretary in the department of ocean development in the science and technology ministry, said: “As far as science is concerned, there is still no method by which we can predict earthquakes. There are three parameters which have to be worked out — the location, the time and the magnitude of the earthquake.”

But he admitted that there have been stray cases in the world when scientists were able to predict an earthquake. “For instance, Yash Aggarwal, working in a scientific observatory in New York, was able to predict the Blue Mountain earthquake in the city. But the magnitude of the earthquake was very small,” Gupta added.

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