Javed Akhtar

Drama at the Jaipur Lit Festival with Javed Akhtar talking about religion

“I am an atheist, for me all religions are equal, I despise all of them. No religion in the world gives equality to women. Talking about religion is like going back to the cave age… If you want to practice religion, it’s your choice — if you’ve already decided to commit suicide, why does it matter how you do it!”

He said this in response to a debate on whether or not a modern nation state modelled around Buddhism.

However the response from Kancha Ilaiah was pretty sad.

“Life is not a cinema, certainly not Hindi cinema. I can’t go to thousands of Dalits and tribals and say become atheist. If there is one democratic religion they want to turn to, it would be Buddhism. I would rather trust their knowledge than that of the intellectuals.”

I think it’s pretty damning that while the Dalit who wrote the constitution could be an atheist, the current Dalits and tribals are assumed to be incapable of grasping a world without religion.