Management of the Post-Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGI) seems to be under a spell. Or, what else could possibly explain the reasons for it to invite an astrologer, a man who claims to be an expert of 'black magic and mantra, yantra', for a special talk?
According to a recent notice issued by PGI director Dr YK Chawla, the region's most famous exponent of the occult, P Khurrana, will deliver a lecture on the topic 'astrology, dharma and medical science' this Saturday to the institute's faculty, staff and resident doctors.
Besides astrology, Khurrana on his website claims to be an expert of 'black magic, mantra, yantra, moles, dreams and colours, besides gems'. These fields have widely and strongly been rejected as quackery by modern science. But Khurrana offers more, including "services" for "health and chronic diseases".
The proposed talk has already led to tongues wagging. The PGI faculty has serious reservations. "It's the first time that in the 50-year history of the institute that some black magic expert has been invited to enlighten medical scientists. Such actions damage the reputation of the institute," said a senior professor, who wished not to be named.
Such trends, he said, should be discouraged immediately. "If it is allowed today, tomorrow some baba can be invited to teach us how to treat patients with mantras instead of medicine."
PRESTIGE AT STAKE
The Saturday talk at PGIMER has remained a prestigious platform with distinguished scientists, editors and intellectuals interacting with the doctors on various social and scientific issues. The PGI director remained unavailable for comment, but the institute's spokesperson Manju Wadwalkar sees no wrong in inviting Khurrana, or his ilk: "The Saturday talk is not an academic exercise, so there is no harm in calling an astrologer. The main purpose is to expose PGI staff to other disciplines of life."
Many eminent voices disagree. Dr Arvind, dean, Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, SAS Nagar, opined, "Entire modern science is based on logic and rationale. If we invite astrologers to institutes like the PGI, it means that we may use science but betray its very spirit."