Learning From History – At Peace With History (The Sceptical Patriot)

Just finished reading “The Sceptical Patriot”, a book that examines the veracity of popular “India Facts” like Invented the zero, Sanskrit is the best language for computers, India never invaded another country, India was once the most prosperous nation, Plastic surgery was developed in India … The author deals with several such “facts” that gets bandied over email, facebook, dinner conversations and more. He deals with them in a layman-friendly and mildly-funny text of 200 odd pages.

The aim of the book and also this post is not to mock, belittle or ignore India’s past achievements but to take a realistic view based on the evidence available. Continue reading “Learning From History – At Peace With History (The Sceptical Patriot)”

Spare The Tree – This Gudhi

Happy Gudhi Padwa! The new year day for many Marathi households and also the day when thousands of mango, neem trees and many other plants get ripped of their leaves and flowers for a symbolic Gudi decoration.

The leaves and flowers are supposed to make the Gudhi more appealing. but maybe it is time to consider if the leaves and flowers are better off ‘alive and well’ on the plant or ‘dead’ on the Gudhi? Maybe the tree could be your Gudhi (put a silver pot over it for a day the tree wont mind 🙂 Or even better, maybe we could welcome the new year by planting a sapling?

As students of science, shouldn’t we also be examining customs and beliefs in the light of the science of the day and with the context of the times we live in?

गुढी पाडवा आणि नवीन वर्षाच्या हार्दिक शुभेच्छा !

Wish you a Goody Gudi Padwa 🙂

I Believe In Dr. Narendra Dabholkar

DabholkarI have been volunteering for Maharashtra Andhashraddha Nirmulan Samiti (Maharashtra Committee for Eradication of Blind Faith), usually referred to as Anis, for over 3 years and was fortunate to be closely associated with Dr Dabholkar over that period. I write this in great shock, disbelief and sorrow.

For over two decades, Dr. Dabholkar fought against rampant superstitions in our society and for the cause of rationalism and humanism. While radicals and those with vested interests regularly tried to malign him and project him as someone opposed to religion, that was never the case. Continue reading “I Believe In Dr. Narendra Dabholkar”

Andhashraddha Nirmulan Samiti – 20 Yr Convention

For the past 6 months or so, I have been associated with Andhashraddha Nirmulan Samiti (ANS), an organization that aims to promote rational thought in society and works for the elimination of superstitions, blind faith & customs. Many social movements tend to peak in about 3 years since inception and then tend to die out in another 3-5 years. However the ANS has been at work for a remarkable 20+ years. Continue reading “Andhashraddha Nirmulan Samiti – 20 Yr Convention”

An impatient’s guide to Knee Surgery – Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) Reconstruction and Meniscus Tear

The story begins many years back, on a beautiful sunny morning in 1997. I was playing cricket in the inter division cricket tournament in my college. I had bowled my quota of overs and we had kept the opposition down to a modest score. Later while batting we were within reach of the target with 10 runs to get and 8 balls to go. 8 balls 10 runs wasn’t easy but I did think we could make it. I took strike, the bowler bowled a delivery that rose to about waist height. I swung the bat in what is known as a pull shot, hoping to get a boundary. My bat moved, my chest and waist rotated in an attempt to generate max power, but my legs did not move. I heard and felt a snap / pop in my left knee and I was down in excruciating pain. I could not even think of getting up, let alone running. After a few minutes of agony, I was helped off the field. We later lost the match. Continue reading “An impatient’s guide to Knee Surgery – Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) Reconstruction and Meniscus Tear”

Magical Men Of 21st Century India

“The Key Selling Point Of The GodMen Is Their Talk About Things That Make No Sense”

Right from childhood, stories that had their foundation in magic and ‘chamatkars’ always appealed to me. I must have watched 10s of combinations of stories like – Ramu’s son is ill and no doctor is able to cure him; Ramu goes to a godman who whips up a magical powder; Ramu applies the powder on his son’s forehead and the kid is magically cured. As a child, I remember being in awe of the godman and thinking, “Wow! This man is amazing!”. Friends readily contributed their own stories of how the godman was indeed magical.

Continue reading “Magical Men Of 21st Century India”

Bachchan Temple Treks Are Disappointing

I used to think that Amitabh Bachchan was a great role model for Indians. But his regular  treks to temples across India are consistently eroding his stature in my eyes.

Ref- Bollywood’s Bachchan walks barefoot to pray

India is anyway full of religious fanatics and superstitious people who would believe and follow so called god men and waste their lives believing in some hocus pocus.

The biggest name in India acting in such fashion only makes things worse. I am sure thousands of Amitabh followers would soon imitate Amitabh and maybe even try to make the idols drink milk!

In today’s India it seems “Science” and “Scientific Temper” are topics meant only for speeches but never for actual implementation.

Religion in India – Faith vs Reason

In my previous post, I wrote about the absence of scientific temper in India and the need for those well informed, to voice their opinions against superstitions and customs that have chained our society.

India today seems completely at the mercy of ill-placed faith. Instead of individuals standing on the shoulders of faith and rising to a higher level, we find that it’s today working the other way round. As festivals, miracle babas and religious processions get bigger, they are further pulling down the person caught in it.

What’s worrying is that despite affluence and higher education getting to the cities, the queues outside temples on a so called auspicious day, just keep getting longer. Even youngsters are caught in this. What’s the sense in visiting temples on the day of an exam? Why would God be good to you only because you visited a certain temple on a certain supposedly auspicious day? Wouldn’t God find good deeds and behaviour, the only thing that mattered?

Astrology: The dates for most marriages are determined by astrology that has no logical or scientific basis. I unfortnately too complied with this and married on a day that was supposed to be auspicious. It wasn’t because I believed that marrying on that date and time would really make a difference, but more because I just played along with what the elders in the family decided.
I think that was a mistake and I should have refused to comply, as that would not only have helped me feel better about doing the right thing, but perhaps might have also built up some awareness at least amongst those close to me.
Vaastu Shastra: I saw a TV show about “Vaastu Shastra” (Art of Building) a few days back and the lady expert was confidently dishing out rubbish on live TV. If a person has come to a stage where he believes that the reason why his business is not doing well is that his toilets are facing in the wrong direction, then I think he needs immediate medical attention and not Vaastu Shastra.