Until today, I had not heard of Narendra Dabholkar. He was a rationalist living in Pune, Maharashtra who fought against superstitious practices that ailed society. A doctor by training, he worked to expose those who used superstition and rituals as a tool to exploit ignorant people. I fully share his stand against such ills and bow to his zeal. I was deeply angered and saddened to read that he was murdered by two gunmen while he was out for his morning walk. Being killed simply for espousing different ideas is evil.
I hope the perpetrators are caught and punished to the fullest extent allowed by law. I also hope that his tragic death sparks a new vigor in wiping these ills from our society.
Narendra Dabholkar was championing an anti-superstition bill in the state of Maharashtra. Some folks are calling for the state to pass this bill as a tribute to the Dr. Dabholkar. I oppose the bill as strongly as I support the fight for rationality. The bill seeks to outlaw various activities that are considered superstitions.
Belief in religion or superstitions is an individual’s right. Performing a ritual or asking others to perform one is within one’s right to speech and expression. Don’t criminalize thoughts and words. As bad as various superstitions are, infringing on an individual’s right to practice one is worse.
I found a funny slide show on superstitions and rituals that cricketers follow. Apparently, even Sachin Tendulkar whom Indians claim to be God is not immune to superstitions. He wears his left pad first while going out to bad. Are we now going to make it a law that he tosses a coin and chooses a pad at random?