The movement for abolishing untouchability was centred around the right of Dalits to enter temples, as was the case in Travancore. The movement for temple entry was not a pastime but a proclamation of dignity for the most exploited sections. Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, Gandhiji and all other social reformers were supporters of the movement. Going by Madhu Kishwar’s logic (Jan. 17), though, it should have never happened. For, what can one do if some deities prefer only the ‘elite’ company of higher castes? Ms Kishwar does not seem to understand the subtleties of symbolism.
I agree with Ms Kishwar’s views on the mindless debates on TV news channels, and the supercilious attitude of their anchors. However, she has gone overboard in defending age-old rituals and cultural practices.
Unless we have the willingness to examine and, if necessary, modify every facet of life in the light of rational and scientific advancement, our society is bound to stagnate. Ideas may emerge from the West or the East. What should matter is their relevance.
Ms Kishwar is absolutely right in drawing our attention to the unprofessional, unethical and irrational conduct of a section of the media in its treatment of certain practices of faith. Our Constitution gives us not only the right to choose another belief but also to opt out of all religious beliefs. Different aspects of faith or personal temperament, as long as they are not forced on others and cause no apparent social harm, add colour to social living. More importantly, such diverse practices which do not make sense to a liberal fundamentalist serve as bulwarks against the tyranny of homogeneity and majoritarianism.
It is becoming a trend among the educated people to prove their scientific temper by bashing religion, tradition and culture. All branches of science directly or indirectly have emerged from the works of ancient saints and philosophers.