Monday, December 5, 2022

Inculcating scientific temper need of the hour

Foreword to Prof. Devaraju Maharaju’s ‘Humanism-A slogan of Life’

Suravaram Sudhakar Reddy

Cover page of the book

I am honoured to write the foreword to this book Humanism- A slogan of Life written by Prof. Devaraju Maharaju.

Though we have achieved Independence 74 years ago, caste, religious sentiments and blind superstitions are still rampant in the country and the impact of these is very high on our people. Educational facilities are also increasing and at present there are  800 universities all over the country. Crores of students, lakhs of scientists and educationists are our foundation for the advancement of our nation. Scientific education and superstitions are incompatible. However, scientific temper and rationality are neither being inculcated nor growing at all.

Some teachers who explain about the solar eclipse in the class after going to his house, will go to a well, canal or river and        worship the sun. Eminent scientist Dr Suri Bhagavantham after his retirement led the remaining life as most devoted disciple of Puttaparthi Saibaba.   Most surprising fact is that even scientists and directors of Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) performed pooja to the rocket through which they were about to send a satellite to the moon for scientific research. This is no exaggeration as it appeared in all prominent newspapers.

Secular constitution

Ours is a secular constitution. Our country has a non religious political system. But it is interpreted in the wrong way. Secular means state is above religion. State is giving equal priority to all religions. As a matter of fact in many government offices photos of gods are displayed prominently. Poojas are being performed even at programs of the government. Hundreds of crores of rupees from the government treasury, which is people’s money,  is being spent on religious activity. Behind this vote bank politics  is also involved.

In recent years there have been many exposures about self styled Babas’ misdeeds in Ashrams where many girls and women were cheated, raped and tortured. They resorted to murders also. One Asaram and his son both were arrested after many complaints and were punished. Another guru of Haryana collected hundreds of crores of rupees and built huge luxurious mansions. He has lakhs of devotees  who tried to prevent his arrest on charges of rape and murder. Police had to resort to firing to arrest him. Top leaders of the ruling party also camouflage as his devotees. Even after all these exposures people are going to new gurus. This is regressive and shameful.

Superstitions are more dangerous than religious beliefs

Blind superstitions are more dangerous than religious beliefs. Hitherto in Europe capital punishments used to be imposed on  those who are accused of performing witchcraft etc. Over time they have come out of such superstitions. However, in India still superstitions are very deep rooted. In many states people believe that black magic will harm them and kill some innocents after torturing them.

Even our Prime Minister Narendra Modi with art of demagogy boasts frequently that in ancient India Karna was given birth through surrogacy and Vinayaka’s body was attached with head of an elephant by  plastic surgery. As if India was very developed many centuries ago. These shocking statements of our Prime Minister were in Science Congress. His followers have    gone a step forward in stating that if urine of cow is taken as medicine it will treat COVID-19. This has led to several accidents and even deaths. They give an unscientific explanation that cows  will breath out oxygen. In universities the palmistry and “science of reincarnation” are being introduced as subjects of curriculum and research by such people.

Progressive leaders being killed

Back cover of the book

Apart from propagating blind superstitions, intellectuals and progressive eminent personalities are being assassinated with meticulous planning. In Pune, popular rationalist Dr Narendra Dhabolkar, in Kolhapur, writer, and communist leader Govind Pansare, in Bangalore, Pro.  MM Kalburgi, a scholar, and Gouri Lankesh, a  well known eminent progressive journalist were shot dead by Sanathan Samstha a shadow organisation of Hindutva forces. Though years have passed after these murders, none of the culprits responsible for these killings got punished till now.

In this background there is a lot of debate going on between the  propagandists of superstitions  and rationalists. Many people are  writing articles. Meetings are also being held. But 85 percent of electronic media in the country is in the clutches of corporate sharks. They are relentlessly giving wide publicity to irrational and unscientific superstitions and communal propaganda. While the fundamentalists are using superstition for political ends, corporates are using them to push their products. Both the government and corporate supporters of the government are working overtime in order to give wide publicity to irrational ideals.

Scientific temper is important

Scientific temper should not be looked at as a separate issue. Behind communalism and blind superstitions there are class politics for class exploitation and in order to serve the interests of  corporates religion is being used as a strong weapon. Moreover, in order to divert attention of common masses from price rise of essential commodities and to serve the interests of corporate big business organisations and to continue supremacy of upper castes and economic class exploitation, people are being made slaves to superstitions. In addition to that communal venom is also being injected into people. This is the ongoing process in India. Intolerance is increasing leading to attacks on minorities and the Dalits.

Hence, we should not see the struggle for scientific temper, secularism, morality, and the struggle for building up classless society as separate issues in isolation. These are mutually interdependent. We are not against those who believe in religion. We are explaining the reality of religion and asking them to think with a scientific outlook.

Karl Marx has rightly pointed out that “religion is relief of the oppressed but it has become the opium of people”. If this intoxication of opium is detoxed from people then the world will turn into a scientific society radiating rational thoughts. It’s a very difficult battle but we have to win it for the sake of the nation and better future.

Devaraju Maharaju, a popular writer

Dr Devaraju Maharaju has written hundreds of articles and many    books against class exploitation and superstitions in simple style. He is a very popular writer. His writings are rationalistic and his logic is not based on jugglery of words. It is a scientific explanation. In the prevailing political circumstances in the country one needs intellectual courage. He is having that courage and has clarity on the issues he referred to. He has a   deep understanding on these issues. He has penned many articles in Telugu. This is his English book and People’s Publishing House is publishing this book. In this way this scientific propaganda is being extended to other areas of the nation. This is definitely a book to read and assimilate.

1 December 2021

(The author is a former Member of Parliament and former General Secretary of Communist Party of India)

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