The latest issue of Frontline – India’s National Magazine – features several stories of interest in the theme “Superstition Industry”. Check it out.
The main feature is on the charges against a famous guru. In the name of faith | Frontline.
Asaram Bapu’s alleged sexual assault on a young girl offers an opportunity to throw light on India’s superstition industry and lift the veil on the state-temple-corporate complex.
Asaram’s arrest is not just a matter of one more godman’s personal failings. Rather, this episode dramatises the thin line between faith and blind faith, and the near complete merger of faith, politics and money in contemporary Indian society.
An extremely interesting piece about why godmen are still so popular and the potential backlash ‘Fewer rational thinkers today’ | Frontline.
Among the many changes we witnessed, one very significant development in a negative sense has been the deepening of superstitious belief and ritualistic practices linked to that belief. This has been noticeable across the board. The number of rational thinkers who could counter such beliefs in the public domain are fewer [today] and the cacophony of those who support these beliefs drowns out these rational voices. This is also linked to the kind of politics we have today. It is rare to find a politician in North India not donning seven to eight rings, each ring supposedly meant to propitiate a spirit. In the earlier days, one did have among the ruling parties and politicians strong rationalists who used their public speeches to promote scientific thinking. But today the character of mainstream political parties is different.
On Sanal Edamaruku’s unmasking of a so-called miracle: ‘We can’t claim this to be a miracle’ | Frontline.
An interview with a local priest:
Why did this become such a big case if the Church agrees that it was not a miracle?
There are two parts to the story. The first part is with regard to Mr. Sanal’s statement about the incident. He says there is a rational explanation for what happened. We ourselves would say we cannot claim this to be a miracle. If we were to investigate all the evidence presented, it definitely didn’t seem like a miracle. There is no need for a declaration on our part because the normal process would have been that the local church speaks to the Cardinal who then appoints a team of experts. But there was no appeal from the local church even… it just was not considered important enough. There have been such occasions in the past and we have acted to prevent mass hysteria. There is a certain sense of gullibility in people probably because of the pain and desire for something miraculous to happen in their lives.
The continuance of the work of Dabholkar. Dabholkar’s legacy | Frontline.
“We in the family are really overwhelmed by the reactions [to the murder] and condolences that poured in from across the world. It is an attempt to silence the voice of reason. But we will not stop here. We will propagate his rational principles and the spirit of inquiry. We should support the legal reforms to strengthen the efforts to eradicate exploitative practices. That will be the real tribute to him.”