Farewell to India’s scourge of the godmen

Narendra Achyut Dabholkar (1945-2013)

Narendra Dabholkar was a popular man in Pune. This much-loved social activist was known internationally as well as his native Maharashtra as a sharp critic of superstitious religion, having founded the Andhashraddha Nirmoolan Samiti, or Committee for the Eradication of Blind Faith.

Dabholkar, 67, was shot dead on Tuesday morning.

Campaigning secularists are globally under threat, and in recent times the news stories have focused largely on the Arab Muslim world. In India – and in particular in a wealthy region of that country, with a literacy rate of 83%, and which is more than 80% Hindu in religious persuasion – the murder of a rationalist hero appears to be uniting organised society and its political class in defence of reason and against religious fundamentalism.

In typically Indian clipped English, from the Times of India

“For Dabholkar, who hailed from Satara, spreading scientific temper and eradicating superstitions and undesirable rituals in the society was a lifelong mission which he carried with zest and rational thought, notwithstanding resistance from retrograde elements.”

Retrograde elements indeed.

RIP Narendra Achyut Dabholkar (1945-2013)