Using tragedy for votes

Nursing professionals hurrying to attend to patients in intensive care unit after a mass casualty were stopped by security personal for thirty minutes.

A group of junior doctors called to attend an emergency were prevented from accessing Lift or stairs to go to the Operation Theater for some time by security personal.

Is this really happening?

Yes, it happened in India after the recent fireworks accident at Kollam, Kerala.

Why were they prevented ?

[Read more…]

Religion and phobias

“Why are you so anti Hindu ?” or “why are you so anti Muslim?” or “why are you so anti Christian ?

Questions like these are asked of me quite frequently in social media. My reply is this.

I am not against Hindus or Muslims or Christians. I usually debate and criticise ideas, not persons following them. So when I criticise a Hindu custom of not allowing equal rights to women devotees or a Muslim custom of forcing veil or burqa on women, I will not become anti Hindu or anti Muslim. When a Dalit is killed for marrying an upper caste girl I will call it a religious killing because casteism is part and parcel of Hinduism. Similarly when an atheist is hacked to death as per Quranic verses, I will call it again a religious killing.

Theists and some apologists for religion feel that only those who actually kill or cause harm, or order it, should be criticised, but not the idea, the religion concerned. This is like saying Hitler should be criticised but not Nazism. This is  giving free pass to dangerous inhuman irrational ideas. I do not want to give such a free pass.

Does that make me Hinduphobic or Muslimphobic ?

What is a phobia ? As per Oxford Dictionary it is “an extreme or irrational fear of or aversion to something”.

No, I do not have such a fear or aversion of Hindus or Muslims or of any theists as an individual.

Does that make me Hinduism-phobic or Islamophobic ?

It is true that I have an aversion to most religions. I also have a fear, may be not extreme due to my location,  that I can be harassed or harmed  by people inspired by love and devotion for religions, because I debate and criticise them. I consider it as a rational fear. So I can be justly called Hinduism-phobic or Islamophobic or Christianity-phobic if a person who is allergic to peanuts can be called peanut-o-phobic, an aversion and fear, but not an irrational one.

India remember a towering personality

I had no friends among the untouchables of Baroda State. But I had friends among other classes. One was a Hindu, the other was an Indian Christian. I first went to my Hindu friend and told him what had befallen me. He was a noble soul and a great personal friend of mine. He was sad and also indignant. He, however, let fall one observation. He said, “If you come to my home, my servants will go.” I took the hint, and did not press him to accommodate me.I did not like to go to the Indian Christian friend. Once he had invited me to go and stay with him. But I had declined, preferring to stay in the Parsi inn. My reason was that his habits were not congenial to me. To go now would be to invite a rebuff. So I went to my office, but I could not really give up this chance of finding a shelter. On consulting a friend I decided to go to him [=to the Indian Christian friend] and ask him if he would accommodate me. When I put the question, his reply was that his wife was coming to Baroda the next day, and that he would have to consult her.

I learnt subsequently that it was a very diplomatic answer. He and his wife came originally from a family which was Brahmin by caste, and although on conversion to Christianity the husband had become liberal in thought, the wife had remained orthodox in her ways, and would not have consented to harbour an untouchable in her house. The last ray of hope thus flickered away. It was four p.m. when I left the house of my Indian Christian friend. Where to go was the one supreme question before me. I must quit the inn, and had no friend to go to!! The only alternative left was to return to Bombay.

  The above quoted autobiographical account is from the life of an official in the office of Maharaja of Baroda, that took place in India 1917. He was 26 years old. By then he already had an M.A and a PhD from Columbia University, New York. But he could not find accommodation in Baroda and was forced to resign his job.

[Read more…]

A “period” protest

I remember that in my childhood, I was confused when I realised we were not allowed to touch women during their menstrual periods. I could not get any real explanation for this custom. Also they were not allowed to enter kitchen or rooms were gods are offered prayers.. I noticed this mostly in the ancestral home of my parents, when a large number of family members  converge for some occasions and not (as far as I can remember) in my own home. Of course they were not allowed to enter temples during that time and this restriction continue even now. I  was sure there were many more restrictions and taboos on menstruating women then and some are persisting.

[Read more…]

Some homeopathic thoughts

April 10 is celebrated as World Homeopathy Day as that day is birth day of the founder of that pseudo science, Samuel Hahnemann.

Though it is faith-based and not evidence based, homeopathy is very popular in Indian sub continent. Its popularity is sustained by heavy government funding. India, it is believed, have 195 homeopathy teaching institutions and around 250 thousand registered practitioners. To know the level of state support you need only to see the details of this national event that is being held in New Delhi.

[Read more…]

A tragedy that was fore-seen

As more details of the horrendous tragedy at a temple in Kollam, Kerala, India during fire works display that resulted in death of more than 100 people is coming out, it is becoming clear that it was a very well fore-seen and avoidable disaster.

An old woman living 25 meters away from the site had given a written complaint to the authorities asking them to ban fire works. She had mentioned that she is suffering from heart disease and cannot withstand loud sounds. She had also complained that her house regularly gets damaged due to this annual event.

[Read more…]

Temple fire works accident kills more than 80

Woke up this Sunday morning to hear the shocking news of death of more than 80 people in a fire works accident in my state of Kerala in India, around 170 miles from my town.

Temples in Kerala usually have big fire works display along with its annual festivities. Some temples will even have a fire works competition between two neighbourhood communities. Around 100 meters from my house also such a fire works display take place, though at a much smaller scale. Many of these explosive material are handled very carelessly and accidents do happen very often.


Temples are  located in very populous areas and huge crowds throng during this time at the premises. Any minor fire can cause massive damage. Being an issue related to religion and tradition, safety concerns take a back seat. Human lives have low value when it comes to festivities related to god.

Does the mythical gods require such dangerous  fire works displays for them to bless us?

Let me condole this tragic loss of life, which might have been prevented if safety of human lives were given much more importance than the pomp and splendour of religious festivals.