The #MainBhiChowkidar to Guard Scientific Rationalism in India

Taking a conscious decision to embark on a mission of promoting scientific temperament and rationalism in India was an obvious one for me. Among many reasons, the most important ones were the rise of pseudo-science promotions in the last few years and the rise of fake news and misinformation. So I have actively started talking against mixing of scientific knowledge and mythologies. The initial backlash that I received, much to my expectations, were from those who could not see how a systematic damage is being caused to logical thinking of common people. But what amazed me was that many learned research scholars too raised objections. The amazement was not on the objections per se, it is always healthy to indulge in discussions to enrich our mutual knowledge. The arguments, in supporting the claims like IVF existed during Mahabharata times, Lord Ganesh did cosmetic surgery etc. made by Honourable Prime Minister Narendra Modi Ji, were “evidences” that proves their blind faith in the ancient scriptures. How can the existential evidence of flora or fauna, the places or landmarks mentioned in any ancient scripts prove existence of scientific knowledge that such leaders claim India had?

This girl in the picture above is probably so glad because she found “evidence” of Lord Voldemort (Thomas Riddle)’s “existence” at Edinburgh’s Greyfriars Kirkyard. Will after thousands of years later this grave be enough “proof” or “evidence” for Harry Potter “followers” to believe there existed a Harry Potter and a demon called Lord Voldemort with exemplary magical powers? This corollary is not a perfect one to justify my arguments but I guess it is enough to explain the logic behind. The logic is that any ancient book, mythological or not, written in any era will obviously draw some inspiration from that era. That’s why any retrospective look at the history will have some instances of coincidence with historical places mentioned in books referenced to support mixing of science and mythologies. This just proves what’s the age of such scripture, nothing more; especially “scientific advancements” claimed strangely solely by “a specific political party” for reasons best known to them.

It becomes almost necessary to quote Einstein here, “science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind”. What happened to Narendra Dabholkar is a classic case of how rational voices are being systematically targeted for reforming the society. Rationalist Narendra Dabholkar was at the forefront of a long-running campaign to ban superstitious religious practices.  His efforts made the state of Maharashtra to pass an anti black-magic bill. We need to understand that it is the lack of scientific temperament in common people that give rise to so many “godmen” claim to perform miracles so as to impress their devotees. Recently when I was bitten by a dog, I read an article about rabies awareness in India. I was shocked that one woman died of rabies because her family went to some “godmen” instead of hospital to cure her. And I am sure that you will agree this is not a singular case either. So, it is very important to have a scientific temperament and rationalism. We should ask questions, ask difficult questions! We should not believe in anything because of our blind faith in the scriptures or simply because it is some age old tradition. Learn to question the status quo. India is the land of enlightenment. We got the gift of Geeta only because Arjun questioned Lord Shri Krishna Ji, the avatar of Lord Vishnu himself

It is a well-known fact now how fake news and misinformation can polarize public opinion as evident from Brexit or US elections. There is absolutely no way other than a scientific temperament to cross check the source to differentiate between news and plain falsification. Morphed videos or those taking a portion out of whole speech to entirely change the context have triggered violence and extremism in many cases, example of Muzaffarnagar riots is worth mentioning because an MLA was booked for uploading a fake video that incited the riots. In this digital age when news is been feed to us at such a rapid pace that we are not able to absorb it. It makes it easier for miscreants to distort, obscure or sensationalise something knowing a lack of scientific temperament in gullible janta means they will be able to spread lies without being caught or questioned. Before we ask our government to act on this menace, the onus is on us especially the learned community to build a Rationalist mindset that questions what is being feed to them and research about the integrity of the information through proper checks and control.


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