Astrologers try to forecast tremors


INDIA: Indian astrologers and seismologists began a workshop in the capital New Delhi over the weekend to try and combine their divergent disciplines in order to forecast earthquakes and natural disasters, writes Rahul Bedi in New Delhi.

"Scientists with advanced computers have sometimes failed to predict major earthquakes, but ancient Indian astrology does have the tools to roughly foretell the time and sometimes even the exact date and time of an earthquake, " federal Human Resources and Development Minister Murli Manohar Joshi said while opening the three-day event.

The Minister, who is an accomplished physicist but has been under attack by rationalists for wanting to introduce astrology in the national school and university curriculum, declared that the seminar's findings would be an attempt at integrating ancient Indian wisdom with modern knowledge.

Organised by the Astrology Study and Research Institute in Delhi, seminar participants will extrapolate data from the devastating earthquake that killed over 20,000 people in western Gujarat state in January 2001 with planetary configurations during the same period in order to find a link. Astrological predictions regarding earthquakes and natural disasters over the next decade would also be discussed.

"I am more than willing to share how I predicted the Gujarat earthquake based on the movement of stars," Lachhman Das Madan, who heads the Astrology Study and Research Institute, said.

Madan, whose book Predicting Earthquakes and Calamaties was released at the seminar, had forecast the Gujarat earthquake before it struck and its after-shocks in Iran eight years earlier.

Astrologers at the seminar predict "serious and violent convulsions" in the one-month period from July 29th onwards as Earth and Mars were coming close together for the first time in 60,000 years.

And after August 29th, planetary configurations are likely to become "hostile" to the world. A majority of Indians are avid believers in astrology.