‘Attack on Scientific Temper’
The murder of rationalist Narendra Dabholkar is a reminder that dark forces are rising in India
Nikita Kochhar Delhi
The easiest way to become a millionaire in India could be by becoming a baba, that is, a corrupt, perhaps, a debauched, baba. Crisis ridden people desperately look for instant and artificial salvation via a mentor, ‘guru’ or ‘babaji’. The babas make their money and fame by providing fraudulent solutions. While one suggests eating a samosa with a particular coloured sauce, or gol gappas, others advice to change the interior of the house, notably applying the astrological architecture of vaastushastra, or go for black magic. This is a multi-million industry in India and mushrooming all over.
While relentlessly raising his voice against such baloney, myths, falsities, cheating and superstitions, Narendra Dabholkar, well known rationalist and social activist from Maharashtra, who founded ‘Maharashtra Andhashraddha Nirmoolan Samiti’, an organisation set up to eradicate superstitions and religious scams, paid a heavy price.
Narendra Dabholkar was out on a morning walk on Tuesday, August 20, 2013 when he was gunned down by two men, on the head and chest. The killers rode up on a motorcycle near Omkareshwar temple in Pune. Dabholkar’s death left scientists, educators, civil society groups and intellectuals around the country shocked and outraged. Many of them gathered to express their angst and anger in a public meeting and press meet organized by ANHAD (a socio-cultural organization established in March 2003, as a response to the 2002 Gujarat carnage) in New Delhi on Wednesday.
Parallel to this, a mass protest was also held in Mumbai on Wednesday, even while condemnations and protests were held all over the country. The social media too was full of outrage and anger at the murder of the rationalist and social reformer.
‘It is a very shameful day. We have a scientific profession that indicates scientific temper. This isn’t just the killing of a rationalist; we see forces of darkness rising. A war should be fought by all of us and this killing should be taken as a warning’
Professor Yashpal, former chairperson of UGC and eminent scientist, expressed his resentment on the incident by sharply contesting the orthodox ethos which hovers over our society. “Superstitions reflect ancient understanding; we should learn from children as to how to develop a scientific temper. They want to know the how and why behind everything,” he said. “Very often, we get to see thousands travelling to a holy place to see a particular god’s statue drinking milk, or an impression of some goddess which got naturally created on the wall. A lot of money is being made by people who stand against rationality, by fooling the masses,” he added.
Amitabh Pandey, Professor, Academy for Public Understanding of Science, said, “It is a very shameful day. We have a scientific profession that indicates scientific temper. This isn’t just the killing of a rationalist; we see forces of darkness rising. A war should be fought by all of us and this killing should be taken as a warning.”