Death of a secular Gandhi.

mmghosh's picture

This is where we live.

Mr. Dabholkar had drafted an Anti-Superstition and Black Magic Bill 13 years ago but it repeatedly failed to get through the Assembly.

The Bill had proposed that those indulging in black magic or cashing in on people’s superstitions be jailed for up to seven years.

So what did this Gandhian get for his pains?  A bullet in his back.

"Remember Gandhi. Remember what we did to him," was probably the last threat noted rationalist Narendra Dabholkar received from right-wing organizations opposed to the Maharashtra (eradication of black magic) bill. Dabholkar's Andrashradda Nirmulan Samiti (ANS) has been campaigning for the passage of the bill, which has been pending for 14 years now.

Dabholkar, who was shot dead here on Tuesday by unknown assailants, had referred to the threat while speaking to TOI last month. "I have been used to such threats since 1983," he had said. "But I'm fighting within the framework of the Constitution, and those opposing the bill should debate and discuss it as many times as they want. Only those who swindle the common people need to fear the bill. It has been pending in the state legislature for the last six sessions. Misguided forces keep raking up some issues and the government hesitates to approve the bill."

Dabholkar's family and friends said he had received frequent threats and was attacked many times with weapons and sticks. But he had refused to take police protection.


Our fundamentalists are delighted.

Right wing Hindu organisation Sanatan Sanstha on Wednesday appeared to gloat over the killing of social reformer and anti-superstitions crusader Narendra Dabholkar in Pune.

In a front-page statement in its daily mouthpiece "Sanatan Prabhat", Sanatan Sanstha leader Jayant Athavale said births and deaths are pre-destined and everybody gets the fruit of their karma.

"Instead of dying bedridden through illness, or after some surgery, such a death for Dabholkar is a blessing of the almighty," Athavale said in the statement.

And this is no isolated event.  There is a good chance of a fundamentalist (supported strongly by the groups involved in the killing) becoming our next Prime Minister.  Why?  Because our corporate world loves him.

Yet, Big Business loves the “Gujarat Model” because it gives huge tax write-offs (eg, over 60% on the Tatas’ Nano project). Business adores Modi for his ruthless decisiveness in granting super-fast industrial approvals. In promoting Modi, it’s committing the same blunders that Hitler’s and Mussolini’s business backers made — aggravating the grave threat to Indian democracy from the communal extreme-right.

An encomium  for Dr Dabholkar by his colleague Sanal Edamaruku.  Mr Edamaruku is best known for exposing the Roman Catholic hierarchy's fraud involving the Jesus wept miracle in Mumbai, threats by the Catholic hierarchy being a reason why he was forced into exile.

When water started trickling down a statue of Jesus Christ at a Catholic church in Mumbai earlier this year, locals were quick to declare a miracle. Some began collecting the holy water and the Church of Our Lady of Velankanni began to promote it as a site of pilgrimage.


So when Sanal Edamaruku arrived and established that this was not holy water so much as holey plumbing, the backlash was severe. The renowned rationalist was accused of blasphemy, charged with offences that carry a three-year prison sentence and eventually, after receiving death threats, had to seek exile in Finland

Religious conservatives are a problem everywhere.


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I am a religious conservative

Bird Dog's picture

And I am offended by your statement, as it stands.

"Transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones of this presidency."

--Barack Obama, January 2009

I Very Much Doubt That You Are


From years of exposure to your writing, I can confirm that you are a conservative. And you are religious.


But you are not a Religious Conservative in the sense Manish is describing, unless you've been hiding a good part of your thinking. To your credit, I don't get the feeling you've been holding back much.


I tend to avoid this problem by calling people who advocate murder on religious grounds religious fundamentalists. Though, technically, that's not really correct either. The Amish, for example, could fairly be described as fundamentalists, but they are not murderers.


The point is to describe an especially inflexible religious mindset. You can suggest a term that you like, but the fact remains that people with such thinking (or who simulate such thinking for profit or power), are a danger and a problem everywhere.

This was clear enough to Larkin, whose patriotism rested on the notion that England was the worst place on earth with the possible exception of everywhere else.

The deal is this

Bird Dog's picture

Since around 90% of the readership here is American, and since American religious conservatives are not this root of all evil that Manish proclaims, I suggest that his statement is imprecise and fallacious. It's good to avoid invidious overgeneralizations, such as the one made here.

"Transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones of this presidency."

--Barack Obama, January 2009

I'll note the lack of "all" or even "most" in front of "Re-

brutusettu's picture

ligious Conservatives".

Technically, it depends on the definition of conservative.

mmghosh's picture

How far back do traditions go?


Burning of heretics and atheists?  Prohibition of usury?  Restriction of property rights for women?  Restriction of rights to the gay community?


I have no problem with conservatives who can change with the society they live in.  But then they aren't conservatives, merely older liberals IMO.


Apologies for offense caused.

freedom is a fundamental value that does not need to be justified in terms of some other value like efficiency

I could get behind a ban on usury


though the linked objections and counterpoints are weak.

I always thought usury was the foundation of the European

mmghosh's picture

era, along with the joint stock company, double entry book-keeping etc etc.


Why would you want to throw it away?

freedom is a fundamental value that does not need to be justified in terms of some other value like efficiency



and all sorts of unsavoury violent practices. I can see a point to usury, making capital available and all that, and a benefit to society. It's a double edged sword. It can help generate enterprise and profit and jobs and all the good things associated with them. It is also a tool for concentrating money in the hands of a few and for enslaving people. 


There are ways to mitigate this - progressive taxation and redistribution, strong regulation of lenders, generous bankruptcy legislation and so on, but the current of the times is moving away from all of that as the financial industry gains power beyond its capacity for good. 


A good movment to slaughter their prize bull, usury, might result in a return to the Aristotlean mean.

Usury is in Standard English a Very Insulting & Criminal Word


...very akin to predatory lending practices, but, simply being predatory is at least legal.


Usury in the English speaking world denotes criminal lending rates.


Just so you know.


Usury (/ˈjuːʒəri/[1][2]) is the practice of making unethical or immoral monetary loans. Depending on the local laws or social mores, a loan may be considered usurious because of excessive or abusive interest rates. According to some jurisdictions and customs, simply charging any interest at all can be considered usury.[3][4][5] Other terms used for usury or usurers include loan shark, as well as Shylock which is sometimes used with an antisemitic connotation[citation needed].


Best Wishes, Traveller

Oh it does now, yes.


But its classical definition, contemporary with the description of it as a sin, is the charging of interest on a loan. Any interest on any loan. This is evident both in the bible (though the exact quoted escape me right now) and in the writings of pre and post Christian luminaries.


Though I would accept that there was always some debate about it.


Interestingly enough the debate seems to be about as old as civilisation itself. Changes of power in the Levant were usually accompanied by a forgivign of all debts, popular revolutions targeted the financial records first and formost and many cities seem to have had a formal arrangement where the slate was wiped clean every x number of years and all debt forgiven.


But anyway, credit card rates, or rates. Are they not usurious? A 20% apa can only be either excessive profiteering or insulation against your own bad lending practices.

No Offense Taken....:>}}}....nt


Traveller Don't have the Time for 8,000 words on Human....


...frailty in the face of the blackest of all fears....that we don't matter.


At all, to the Universe.


I disagree with eeyn on this...ignorance and superstition needs to be fought and shamed everyday by all rational (?) people of good will.


Seriously, the very fate of humankind rests on...this struggle for rationality over religious fervor. 


This is a battle we cannot avoid, it is one that must be fought in the trenches, within families even...we can respect our differences, we can, and I do tremendously, respect the power of religious faith...but when it turns black, murderous and destructive...then a stake needs to be firmly driven through its black lying poisonous heart.


Black magic is a vile form of religion....laws passed to prevent the harm it might cause are fine; and as for the tears of the blessed Virgin good deed or truth-telling goes unpunished!


Interestingly, I recently was in a Catholic Church and purchased for a religious protestant friend, a pocket medallion that said on one side...With the sacred heart of Jesus, I can accomplish anything.


Alas, I am sensing that this Catholic symbol is not being well received in that 'Blessed," (grin).


It was an innocent error on my part! Really....sort of.






Oh, come on Trav


Tell us what was on the other side of the medal. 


We may need to face up to the possibility that human rationality is about as good as it's going to get, at least if you're measuring time in thousands of years.   Evolution takes longer than that,  and worse yet,  laws like those advocated by Dr. Dabholkar protect the irrational from the effects of natural selection.


Seriously,  look at works by Archimedes and Euclid.  Given the facts and tools available at the time they did way better than 99.9% of us would do.   There's really no sign of improvement at all.

Don't know Manish


Obviously Dr. Dabholkar did nothing to deserve being murdered or even intimidated like his exiled colleague.


But, I can't see him as some kind of moral hero.  His views as you summarize them appear to verge on using the law to ban various religious beliefs he views as irrational.  He is correct that they are irrational but using the police to eliminate unapproved beliefs usually hasn't turned out well.

I believe you have laws against the peddling of charlatanry

mmghosh's picture

selling of snake oil, false representation, burning of witches and so forth.


You are fortunate in that no significant number of people actually actually believe in physical miracles - by that I mean people do not conduct their actual affairs thinking that water can be changed into wine, or that the seas can part or that the earth can stop rotating round the sun and so forth.  For the vast majority of believers, these are stories are used to demonstrate ethical principles.


Over here, OTOH, people actually believe in godmen, astrology, paranormal activity and so forth.  This Sanatan Sanstha, accused of the murder of Dr Dabholkar, believes in the existence of Divine Particles, which you can see obviously glowing on the skin of the Leader of the Sanstha.



The proposed bill would have outlawed the peddling of such religious activities.  Of course there is a political angle to this.  The BJP, with Narendra Modi as its putative leader, is supported by organisations such as this Sanatan Sanstha, whereas Dr Dabholkar was mildly left-wing social-democrat (in the European sense), and in that sense this murder is political, coming as it does before elections next year.


But someone has to actually call a stop to the spread of Divine Particles.

freedom is a fundamental value that does not need to be justified in terms of some other value like efficiency

I can't edit that comment for some reason

mmghosh's picture

so here's some more information on Divine Particles - another pic of the Particles trapped in a Petri dish, therefore making them available to scientific analysis



When an analysis of the Divine particles was conducted through ‘Pendant Drop Mechanical Analysis’ (PDMA), it was deduced that these Divine particles contain positive energy.


After the discovery of the Divine particles, the seekers have shared various spiritual experiences such as reinforcing the faith on God, dispelling the restlessness of mind, enhancement in vital energy, elimination of spiritual distress etc.

freedom is a fundamental value that does not need to be justified in terms of some other value like efficiency

So far, Manish


you've shown me some nice indigenous irrationality,  but really I think we've still got better American-made products.  A quick Google on "Free Energy" should convince you, but if it doesn't,  feel free to move on to the Peoples Temple (no apostrophe) or Heaven's Gate.

Irrationality is good and amusing,

mmghosh's picture

as long as it is not enforced, by assassinations and so forth.  


See, the advantage you have is separation of church and state etc, so these people are no more than a mildly diverting sideshow.


Over here, even major public sector engineering projects are launched on "auspicious" days. 

freedom is a fundamental value that does not need to be justified in terms of some other value like efficiency

Auspicious days


We've got 'em too.  Yours come from astrology,  ours come during Congressional recesses when the deities are freed up for ribbon cuttings.



Too bad they only contain mundane positive energy, like every other particle we've seen so far.


If they contained negative energy we might have something interesting, like material for a warp drive.

This was clear enough to Larkin, whose patriotism rested on the notion that England was the worst place on earth with the possible exception of everywhere else.

Ah, tachyons! I thought warp drives had been replaced

mmghosh's picture

by being able to step across multiverses.

freedom is a fundamental value that does not need to be justified in terms of some other value like efficiency