CHENNAI: Baba Ramdev has opted out of a conference on cancer research co-sponsored by IIT-Madras after an international sponsor pulled out due to his controversial remarks that the dreaded disease is caused by one’s karma.
Prof D Karunagaran of IIT Madras confirmed to New Indian Express on Wednesday that Ramdev cited ‘prior’ commitments for giving a miss to the International Conference on Translational Cancer Research scheduled to be held on Feb 8-11 in Chennai.
“The organising committee informed the local organisers here about Ramdev opting out of the event in a mail. However, we are not sure if it’s because of the media reports,” Prof Karunagaran said.
Ramdev was to be the chief guest at the conference and speak to an audience of international cancer specialists on ‘Cancer Prevention and Treatment: From Ancient Medicine to Modern Medicine’ on the opening day.
The invitation to Ramdev triggered a controversy on social media with health professionals and activists questioning whether it was appropriate to invite a spiritualist to a conference on curing cancer.
In November 2017, Ramdev had voiced his agreement to Assam health minister Himanta Biswa Sarma’s statement that people bear and endure for what they do in their life after Sarma was vehemently criticised for saying that cancer is the result of sins committed in past life.
Ramdev had said: “Everything is related to karma, our birth and death are related to karma. Several reasons cause diseases and one among them is karma."
Responding to a question why Ramdev was invited in the first place, Prof Karunagaran, who is coordinating the conference on behalf of IIT-Madras, said the organizers, the Society for Translational Cancer Research, Thiruvananthapuram, had recommended yoga guru and businessman as a speaker for the inaugural session.
Responding to the MD Andersen Cancer Center’s decision -- not to be associated with the conference this year, that sought to distance itself from the event, he said he has evidence to prove the Texas-based research and treatment facility’s sponsorship.
After the Ramdev invitation went viral, MD Anderson, a Texas-based cancer treatment facility, hastened to clarify that it did sponsor the IIT-Madras event last year but had decided not to do so this year. “In the past, MD Anderson has sponsored this conference through its Global Academic Program. But this year, we’re not a sponsor. Our name and logo are being used without permission, and we’ve requested they be removed from promotional materials,” MD Anderson Centre tweeted.
However, members of MD Anderson’s faculty — Varsha Gandhi and Sen Pathak — are listed as the organisers of the event.