Battling Ignorance on the Frontlines Jun11


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Battling Ignorance on the Frontlines


The constitution of this nation states that it is every citizen’s duty to develop scientific temper. Which means that it is every citizen’s duty to pursue the truth using the scientific method, empirically and to make it known to everyone if there is any kind of foul play involved.

When a purported ‘miracle’ was investigated by Sanal Edamaruku and shown to be a health hazard to all the people consuming ‘holy water’ that was dripping from a statue in Navi Mumbai because the source of the water was a drainage pipe with stagnant water that had alarmingly high amounts of E.coli in it, he was instantly taken on by the community that had been marketing this incident as a miracle.

They hired goons and thugs to threaten him, they filed multiple legal cases against him under the blasphemy law of the country: IPC 295A, an archaic colonial era law that was used to prevent anyone from expressing an opinion contrary to the ruling elite is used nowadays to strong-arm people who have opinions contrary to a majority group, whether it be political, religious or ideological.

Sanal was forced to leave the country, for two major reasons, Firstly, because he faced immediate arrest for doing his duty as a citizen of this nation, by exercising and developing ‘scientific temper’ and his skepticism and may even have saved lives, considering that people were going to the extent of drinking this ‘holy water’.
Secondly, because his life as well as the lives of his family were being threatened by goons hired by this fanatic organization.

I implore you to consider this scenario, consider the fact that in a country of 1.23 billion people, regardless of what one’s opinion is, it will invariably offend at least someone, then does is really make sense to even consider legislatively protecting someone whose views are so feeble that they get offended by the truth? Is it right to force a person who did nothing but ask the organization involved to apologize for perpetrating this hoax (endangering lives in the process) into a self imposed exile? Is it even sane for us to continue with a vestigial law that is a direct reminder of the colonial era when we were subjected to horrendous discrimination based on caste, creed and even skin colour?

Now, I dont know if Ive made a convincing argument for the scenario and thus convinced you to see things as I do, but if you have, then I hope that adding a couple of key facts about this story will not change anything.
The organisations involved in this particular incident were fanatical Catholic organisations namely the Catholic Secular Forum, the Association of Concerned Catholics and the Maharashtra Christian Youth Forum .

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I had the honour of meeting Sanal and spending some time with him a while back, a man who had made it his life’s mission to combat superstition and dangerous dogma. He has debunked a number of fraudulent claims and exposed a number of mystics who constantly used to take advantage of the faithful. His life was once threatened by one such charlatan on live television, stating that the man could kill Sanal using his chants alone. The standoff went on with the mystic chanting and Sanal smirking as the country watched that show live. Evidently the supernatural didnt get the memo about helping this mystic out as he made a complete fool of himself. He is the President of the Indian Rationalist Association and currently operates from Helsinki via teleconferencing sessions because of his exile.

The point now however is, should we really put up with this nonsense in the name of being politically correct at times and non confrontational at other times when the risks are so high. Is’nt it always better to question one’s motives and be skeptical about everything around us? Question everything, find answers that are sufficiently reasonable and battle ignorance at every corner, we owe it to ourselves and to everyone in society.

P.S. If you have any ideas about spreading the word and somehow making Sanal’s situation a tad bit better, please do feel free to share.