“Atheists,” argues Kumaresan, treasurer of the Federation of Indian Rationalist Associations, “are not missionaries. They know they are right and pity those who remain under the thumb of spiritual “dealers” who exploit the masses in the name of God.”
The rationalist leader says the federation’s observations of the lifestyles of the youth indicate that the rationalist way of thinking is a preferred way of life for Generation Y.
Kumaresan is busy setting the stage for the federation’s biannual general body meeting to be held at Chennai on December 26 and 27. Actor Kamal Hasan, a well-known and vocal atheist, is billed to release the Tamil version of Richard Dawkins’ book The God Delusion at this event. Two state ministers, prominent scientists and luminaries from varied walks of life are expected to take part in the “samvad” on communalism and how to “salvage” people from “religious miscreants.”
Dawkins, a pre-eminent scientist and a leading light in the rationalist movement, explains how religion fuels war, foments bigotry and abuses children in his book with the backing of historical and contemporary evidence. “This is an eye-opener for the young Indian. Let them think of the content and lead their lives free of shackles,” says GVK Aasaan, a researcher with Madras University who has translated Dawkins’ celebrated book into Tamil.
Kumaresan says K Ponmudi, minister for higher education, Tamil Nadu and DK Veeramani, veteran Tamil leader, will participate in the event to release the book. The national conference, he says,will have an array of prominent people and leaders. Union Ministers AK Antony, Jaipal Reddy, A Raja and a dozen or more state ministers from Kerala, West Bengal, Orissa and Andhra Pradesh are avowed atheists or agnostics and subscribe to the rationalist movement. He adds that the conference will raise a debate on how young Indians can be guided on the need to develop scientific temper and logical thinking.
The federation’s president Narendra Nayak says it has 70 rationalist associations on its rolls and the conference will focus on the direction it should take in the next two years on spreading the message of humanism and checking communalism.
BVV Subha Rao, a rationalist and atheist based in Bangalore, told DNA that young rationalists of the city have floated two e-mags: e-magazinebangalore and nirmukta.com, which shows the young have an open mind and want to declutter their minds of the heavy doses of religious propaganda indulged in by various religions.