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Free Enquiry in Education
Balwinder Barnala, National General Secretary,
Federation of Indian Rationalist Associations

Free enquiry in Education allows us to trace out the matter in education which is not positive for the uplifting of life of human beings. If it creates slaves of mind and slaves of physical dependency then it must be sorted out and put to the public for justice and eradication. There is a big problem to mark the boundary between Sense and Science. It is also difficult to reliably monitor the boundary between reasoned discourse and pious fiction. In India two types of people are living. Those who worship cow and guard this animal and there are those who are fighting to make it their food. Who is wrong and who is right? What scale may be used to decide the issue? Free thinkers will say that both should live within their limits.

Atheism – the hope of humanity
Dr. Sudesh Bhaskar Ghoderao, Secretary, National Coordination,
Maharashtra Andha Shraddha Nirmoolan Samiti

Atheism tends to free people from the shackles of fear placed on them by religion. Once free of fear, positivity wins and that requires no sense of futility. The mind awakens and the realization of the difference demands a mindset that seeks solutions. The life is devoted to the pursuit of pleasure and self-gratification and also equates to a call to action. The life without action is stagnant and the atheists are far away from stagnancy. The interesting part of atheist hope is that it includes everyone. Theists are not left out. They tend not to discriminate and wish everyone to be happy, almost regardless of their beliefs.

Threat of religious fundamentals
S.Kumana Rajan, Editor in Chief, Tamil Lemuriya

Group loyalty over individual rights and personal achievements is a peculiar feature of fundamentalism. Fundamentalists believe in a particular way of life; they want to put everybody in their particular strait-jacket and dictate what an individual should eat, what an individual should wear, how an individual should live everyday life. Everything is to be determined by the fundamentalist authority. Fundamentalists do not believe in individualism, liberty of personal choice, or plurality of thought. Moreover, they believe only in propagating their own ideas as autocrats generally do. They do not encourage or entertain free debate, they deny others the right to express their own views freely, and they cannot tolerate anything which they perceive as going against their faith. They do not believe in an open society and, although they proclaim themselves a moral force, their language is one of hatred and violence. As true believers, they are out to “save the soul” of the people of their country by force of arms.

Medicine And Atheism
Dr. R. Gowthaman, Director, Periyar Medical Mission

Science always challenges God.  Medical Science is particularly against theism.  Before Hippocrates there were only witches and spiritual healers were doctors.  The witches gave diseases as punishment.  The people were scared to see them even.  Then came the spiritual healers.  They made the people to believe because of God’s anger the diseases were given, and by obtaining the messages the ‘messiahs’ heal the humans. Hippocrates, the Greek Scholar was called as “Father of Modern Medicine”.  The researches started in the Medical Field; ‘Small Pox’ killed lakhs of people; Edward Jenner by discovering ‘small pox vaccine’ eradicated the disease in toto from the world.  After the invention of vaccines and anti-biotics, infectious diseases came under control. Cholera, Tuberculosis, leprosy, etc are now under total control.  The cardiology inventions expand the life span of individuals by doing By-pass surgeries and angio-plastys.  The blind can see by eye transplants.  The deaf can hear by cochlear transplants and all these, because of Medicine and not by spiritual healing.

Our Great leader Periyar while addressing in a doctors meet, started his speech as, “My dear God’s enemies”.  The God gave disease (as per popular believes).  The Doctors heal the disease. So medicine and medical world are against God and a big pillar in the building ‘Atheism’.

Be an atheist  and live as a humanist
B.SAMBASIVA RAO, Treasurer, Manava Vikasa Vedika
(Human  Development Forum), Hyderbad

Atheism is a theoretical tool to combat religion. It is a bright sun to give the light to the masses who are suffering in the darkness of religion. We should feel proud to be atheists, because, we are the torch bearers. We should unmask our identity as and when the situation demands. We should not feel inferior to religious people. We have to strengthen our conviction in atheism. A person who wants to become a humanist, must become an atheist or agnostic. There have been atheist dictators (non-humanists) in the history. So, Atheism should pave the way to humanism. It is like a travel from thought to action. Thus, atheism is theory and humanism is a practical way of life.

Atheism:  A way of Life  
– Prof. Sam George

Believers think human goodness is only by the fear of god. Since atheists have no gods they don’t have moral codes, concludes the theists. Hence theists assume that atheists can never be good moralists. This is like saying that since there is a police force, I never steal. Theists refuse to accept that good hearted people with good conscience need not have any divine moral stipulations; conscience is the only thing needed for the best behaviour in any man. Personally I felt atheism impregnates a person to be more humanistic. Human life could be quite moral even without a god. The British Humanist Association claims that “Right and wrong can be explained by human nature alone and do not require religious teaching”.

The Dravidian Movement in Malaya (Malaysia)
M.Govindasamy, Malaysian Dravidian Association, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

In 1929 Periyar E.V.R. arrived Malaya at the invitation of Perak Hindu Mahajana Sangam, and Periyar declared opened the First Indian Tamil Conference in Ipoh, Perak. The local newspaper published the event (The Straits Times) as the arrival of Indian Reformer-Champion of untouchables. Periyar spoke in 17 (39 meetings) towns and estates in Malaya and Singapore. The meetings attracted very large crowds (2000- 10,000 people) and Periyar’s speeches mainly touched on education, equality, economy, loyalty to this nation, unity and to follow atheism in order to achieve a good living standard in Malaya. In a meeting in Seremban in Negeri Sembilan Periyar said god is in truth, discipline and love. Periyar again visited in 1954 and during that time the Dravidian Association had already been formed and functioning in Malaya in more than 20 cities and towns. This time Periyar saw the development of Malaya and the contribution of Tamils as a turning point for the Malayan economy. Periyar visited and gave talks in more than 40 over functions all over Malaya and Singapore covering all the important reformative subjects affecting the Tamil community. Periyar urged the Tamils to become citizens of Malaya as the life back in Tamil Nadu is not good due to the caste and discrimination factors. In his speech in the holiday resort city of Port Dickson, Periyar declared he will struggle till the end for the equality of Tamils through eradication of castes.

Science and Sciencetific Temper :  An overview
Dhaneswar Sahoo, President, Odisha Rationalist Society

A scientific explanation is different from mystical, purposive or theological explanations. An explanation is scientific when it is evidence-based and does not conflict with other known laws of science. Such an explanation does not simply restrict itself to a single event but it explains other similar events of the past and future. An explanation is like a universal proposition having some predictive value. A scientific explanation is different from a purposive explanation, for the latter applies in case of human action. A person might have worked in a particular way with a purpose, but natural events have nothing to do with any purpose. All prescriptive laws presuppose some law-giver; it may be a legislature, an authority or an agent. But laws of nature are descriptive which do not admit any law-giver. Natural uniformity, exceptionless regularity or invariant happening is considered as descriptive. A descriptive law is neither changeable nor violable, whereas a prescriptive law is variable and changeable from time to time or place to place. Scientific explanation is in accordance with some law or theory and has nothing to do with any theological or supernatural explanation.

Critical thinking in education
G. Olivannan, Vice-President, The Rationalists’ Forum, Tamil Nadu

The two major factors which obstruct the critical thinking in Indian society is:  one the religious dogma and another the marks-oriented education system. Sadly for the first factor the apathy and indifferences of the State is worrying. Now in the recent times another disturbing trend is seen where attempts are made to connect modern discoveries and inventions to ancient times, to puranas and Vedas. The visionary leader Periyar EVR opined that the purpose of education is to enrich a person with knowledge. And knowledge combined with wisdom alone can make one a better person; they should exhibit honesty and integrity and be useful to fellow human beings. The objective of education is to trigger the thinking process in students.

Relevance of Periyarism
Dr. Y. Srinivasa Rao, Scholar of Subaltern Studies, Bharathidasan University, Thiruchirapalli, Tamil Nadu

Periyar knew that ideological alternatives must be mindful to the culture too. Yet, he was not suggesting one religion in place of another. He stuck to his ground and proposed a culture or a way of life based on rationalism and secularism. Though he could not elaborate much on it, there is  no doubt that he was thinking about a culture for subalterns that would be much more social rather than ritualistic. In his life time, he could not provide a structure to such a culture. But the onus is on the shoulders of his followers who are carrying forward his legacy into the present and future.

Building a way of life that is non-religious and non-ritulistic (this is what Periyar wanted) or, at least, less of the both, as a first step towards realizing the Periyar’s model, should be the priority. In the process, dalits, BCs, OBCs and women who have visible ideological commonality and common concerns, must come together to build the model. Secular and rational cultural forms (modern and post modern culture) are all around us. Moreover, the caste Hindus, who gives the impression that they are in conformity with the religious and social orthodoxy, are the first to benefit from the modern/post modern culture. But subalterns need to dispose the religion and rituals to a culture that is socially progressive and culturally liberal.

Rationalist Mass Movement of Periyar
V. Kumaresan, Secretary – External Relations, Dravidar Kazhagam

Periyar Movement is unique among the rationalist organizations both in striving for the cause and in functional style.  The basis of founding the movement is to bring equality and equal opportunity to all humans and to establish egalitarian society.   The society wherein Periyar was born, brought up and lived for 95 years is also unique, in the sense, the people were discriminated by birth in the name of god and religion. Birth based discrimination created graded inequalities in the society, denying education to the major section as if it is the dictum of god and religion.  Periyar who started his public life mainly to bring equality among humans had to fight against god and religion which remained as hurdles.  In that way denial of god and religion is strategic for Periyar Movement and the ultimate goal is to humanize the humans to bring equality and equal opportunities to all.

The birth based discrimination has been prevailing for many centuries.  The elimination of the discrimination will also take longer period for changing the mind set of people.  Periyar considered organized functioning for the cause without any violence.  Periyar brought multitude of cadres within the fold of the organization for a silent but prolonged revolution.  The cadres were groomed not to aspire for any position or power and to distance themselves from contesting elections for any post.  The cadres were trained to be ready for any struggle, agitation, picketing leading to the punishment of imprisonment and any sort of sacrifice.  This is the unique nature of Periyar Rationalist Mass Movement.



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