Although, human sacrifices are not prevalent in India, rare isolated incidents happen occasionally, especially in rural areas. In some cases, human beings have been replaced by animals and birds. But after backlash from animal rights groups, in some places they have been replaced by human effigies. The beliefs behind these sacrifices vary from inducing rainfall to helping childless women conceive. It is alleged that some cases often go unreported or are covered up.
In 2006, in a village in Uttar Pradesh state, a boy was kidnapped, mutilated and killed by a woman and her two sons to cure her nightmares and visions. She had been advised to do so by a tantric or witch-doctor. In 2009, in a village near Vidarbha in Maharashtra state, a childless couple were advised by a tantric to sacrifice eleven children, which would allow them to conceive. The couple managed to kill five children, between December 2009 and March 2010, by poisoning before they were discovered and arrested. A sixth child survived the poisoning. In 2011, the mutilated body of a girl was found in the Bijapur district of Chhattisgarh, she was suspected to have been killed under the belief that it would ensure a better harvest.
U. R. Rao, former chairman of Indian Space Research Organisation, has criticised astrology noting that astrology is more popular than astronomy, which may be affecting India's recognition in science. Meera Nanda, historian and author, has written that India cannot become a superpower in science, unless it eradicates its various superstitions including astrology. Others who have criticised astrology include, Jayant Narlikar (astrophysicist),P. M Bhargava (founder of Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology), Ram Puniyani (former IIT professor) and Yash Pal (physicist and educator).
Ashis Nandy, political psychologist, has argued that astrology should be