A small group of people are doing some fine work talking to school kids in India about how NOT to be fooled.
Standing in front of the schoolchildren at Desu Madra Secondary School in Mohali, in the Indian state of Punjab, Satnam Singh Daun spreads his props out on the table: scarves and money that vanish, cards, powders that burst into flames, some rope, matches, vials, cotton wool. He looks like a magician about to start a show at a child’s birthday party.
But the tricks are not for entertaining the children. Daun is using them to expose the godmen, gurus, astrologers, charlatans, soothsayers, palmists, charm sellers, quacks, and humbugs who are so popular in India.
LOVE this idea! It’s like the magicians here in the U.S. who make it part of their life’s work to expose charlatans and teach critical thinking and skepticism. But this article makes a point to note that superstitious culture in India is worse than in the U.S. as families have their own gurus who gives them all sorts of advice.
The group is sponsored by the Indian Rationalist Association.
At the end of the talk, the children troop out to join their classes, having promised Daun that they will never again succumb to superstition. When they have finished handing out leaflets, the energetic gurubusting triumvirate pack their props, mount their scooters and head off to another assignment at another school to educate children on the importance of being rational.
The Indian Rationalist Association was founded in 1949, with the good wishes of British philosopher Bertrand Russell. Its first members belonged to the educated elite. It has rarely had more than 100,000 members – mainly teachers, students and professionals – but they have been vigorous in publishing pamphlets and deriding the Indian penchant for superstitious nonsense.
Also mentioned in this piece are Sanal Edamaruku and the now deceased Narendra Dabholkar who was killed for his work against superstitious belief. For more on superstition in India, a hot topic lately, click here.
This is such a worthy effort to support. They are heros.