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This is a question often posed to us — the rationalists, secularists and atheists in India- by the proponents of Hindutwa? The first time I heard this question it was not from a hardcore Hindutwa proponent, but a medical doctor in Kerala.
It was in the late s, when we, a group of young rationalist activists, approached this doctor for financial contribution towards a conference organized by our organization.
We tried to explain our position telling him about the number of occasions when we had led campaigns against fundamentalists belonging to other religions, the number of publications brought out by rationalists in Kerala criticizing the religious texts as well as the obscurantist practices followed by Muslims and Christians.
Our doctor, however, was not willing to lend his ears to our arguments and we were thrown out of his clinic with him refusing to give us any money. Over the last two decades since then I have faced this question quite often, forcing me to think about it frequently. Let me hence enumerate the reasons why I find myself criticizing the beliefs and rituals Mmmmmmm essay Hinduism more often than those of other religions.
The very first reason that comes to my mind is a question of statistics. This is precisely the case in other countries too. I read quite a few well-known rationalist periodicals published from the US and Europe.
In all these periodicals, most of the articles are devoted to criticizing Christianity, because that is the religion that the majority of their population follows.
Second is my familiarity with the religion I was born into. I am more familiar with the beliefs, tenets, rituals, and practices of Hinduism than that of any other religion, and hence I am more confident in criticizing it.
So is the case with other rationalists, who were brought up among people adhering to other religious denominations. The writings of a Salman Rushdie, an Ibn Warraq or a Taslima Nasrin, for instance, are more frequently directed against Islamic fundamentalists than those belonging to other religions.
It should be emphasized here that I am not trying to elevate myself to the stature of these eminent writers. The question of statistics referred to above once again comes into play here. Assume that one percent of any religious community in India become rationalists and start criticizing their parent religion.
In India, according to Censuswe have This percentage would naturally get reflected in any given group of rationalists and, as a consequence, in the rationalist literature produced in India. Third, there is a possibility that the liberalization or secularization of the religion of the majority in a country has a positive impact on the religion of the minority itself.
For instance, I have noticed, in Kerala, where I was born, the followers of Islam are much more liberal than many other parts of India.
It is not possible for any section of a people, religious minority included, to be completely outside the sphere of influence of the society they are part of, however much the fundamentalist leadership is against it.
Fourth, the criticism coming from within a community is much more effective than those coming from people outside the fold. This is because criticism, however constructive they be, coming from people from outside a community would tend to be construed as xenophobia or even outright communal.
In a perfect liberal-secular society, this should not be the case and every criticism, wherever it comes from, would be adjudged on its innate worth.
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