Stop Narendra Dabholkar’s anti-superstition bill

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?

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3 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by bla on August 21, 2013 at 10:57 pm

    i think ur mis-informed…from what i have read so far…the bill is aimed at curbing animal cruelty, preventing people being taken for ‘rides’, aiditing communities to be forward thinking and so on…the argument u present doesnt really go anywhere…using sachin as an example is not going to win you points! its an overlly simplisitic example that does nothing to encourage educated deabte on the matter…

    Reply

    • Thank you for stopping by and commenting.

      I mentioned Sachin’s example to show the lighter side of superstitions. It is not for the law to decide what is an acceptable superstition and what is not. Simply leave it to people to follow their wishes as long as they don’t harm anyone else physically.

      Here are some things mentioned in the proposed bill:

      “To perform magical rites in the name of supernatural power” I am not sure what the difference is between and magical and a non-magical rite. Nevertheless, banning such activities would make most religious activities illegal. After all, religion does invoke a supernatural power.

      “To offer ash, talisman, charms etc. for the purpose of exorcism and to drive out evil spirits or ghosts” If this law had been in effect, my grandma would have had to go to jail for a harmless act of offering me holy ash.

      “To sacrifice innocent animals for the appeasement of gods or spirits.” It is okay to buy a goat’s meat in the market, but it is not okay to kill a goat in a temple ritual?

      I could go on about how ridiculous various provisions of the proposed bill are. Here’s a link making arguments identical to mine: http://www.firstpost.com/india/dabholkars-flaw-should-a-law-try-to-deal-with-blind-faith-1049077.html

      Reply

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