NEW DELHI, November 21, 2014
The ‘missing’ scientific temper
PHEROZE L. VINCENT
‘Politicians encourage godmen as they will lose influential vote banks if they act against them’
An absence of scientific temper in government has facilitated the mushrooming of opportunistic preachers who have attained cult-like status among the lower castes and the poor, say India’s leading rationalists.
The fanatical resistance put up by the “commandos” of self-styled godman Rampal in Hisar is a symptom of the malaise encouraged by politicians for electoral gains, they explained.
“He [Rampal] has used pseudo intellectualism to impress the lower castes looking for dignity and importance. There are others like the Gurmeet Ram Rahim of Dera Sacha Sauda and the Radha Soami Satsang in Punjab and Haryana who have found success by these methods,” said Mangalore-based Narendra Nayak, the president of the Federation of Indian Rationalist Associations.
Using poet Kabir’s legacy that appeals to both Hindus and Muslims, Rampal was able to gather a number of followers, Jaipur-based B.L. Yadav, the president of The Rationalist Society, said.
“Kabirpanthis, who are spread all over north and central India, have been influenced by Rampal’s teachings and many are convinced that he is the reincarnation of Kabir. Politicians encourage these godmen as they will lose influential vote banks if they act against them,” he said. He said the state was guilty of dereliction of the fundamental duty of promoting scientific temper. “Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke about Ganesha in Mumbai last month saying, ‘There must have been some plastic surgeon at that time who got an elephant’s head on the body of a human being and began the practice of plastic surgery.’ Scientific temper does not exist in the government,” Mr. Yadav added.
Prabir Ghosh, the general secretary of the Science and Rationalists Association of India, advocated direct action. “We challenge godmen to do a miracle. If we can’t prove that it is a mere trick and not a miracle, then we offer Rs. 25 lakh to the godman,” he told The Hindu.
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