Narendra Dabholkar

The rationalist from India.

🧑 people

I learned about Narendra Dabholkar in an excellent story about religious idols drinking milk in 1995. This saga captured the imagination of every Indian for at least a few days until the mythbusters convincingly proved a rather undivine intervention to explain the phenomenon. I highly recommend reading this long-form. It speaks volumes for the religious fervour of the people of the time. Alas, at the time of this writing, I would even say that the temperament has not departed too far from where it was quarter of a century ago.

Dabholkar was certainly among the brighter spots in society. He showed admirable rationality in front of the unapologetically superstitious. He was the founder of the rationalist group Maharashtra Andhashraddha Nirmulan Samiti (MANS). I am quite excited that there exists an organization in India that takes this plague head on.

Unfortunately, he was murdered in 2013 by extremist right-wing elements (allegedly, of course) during a time when he was spearheading the Anti-Superstition and Black Magic Act. This is an undeserved conclusion for the life one of the rarer faction of people. This should be a stark reminder for all of us that the ideological war is a long and hard one.

India needs more Dabholkars.