Saturday, September 19, 2015

Why the Superstition Bill is a Trojan Horse....

Superstition Act – Karnataka

Government of Karnataka is attempting to bring in a Law to punish the perpetrators of what it calls ‘superstition’ and to aid the Government NLS has drafted a Bill and submitted to Sri. Siddharamaiah, Chief Minister of Karnataka.
The central rationale for the proposed act is, many superstitions continue to exist in our society, and they cause ‘significant harm and exploitation of common people’.  The superstitions cause financial exploitation and financial harm and they have no place in ‘civilized’ society.  It is also argued that it infringes the right to life with dignity guaranteed under Article 21 of the constitution. If you replace ‘superstition’  with ‘Cigarette smoking or Homeopathy’ it will sound equally compelling. In that the rationale is a mere platitude.
If we turn the page to Article 21, it is clear that it is a right against the State and any infringement of personal liberty of an individual against another is to be dealt under Article 226 or under General Law. Article 21 is to safeguard the right of the individual against the State such that the State cannot infringe upon the personal liberty or deprivation of life except through the established law.
( I am not a student of Law but what I read tells me as much)
I am confused as to why a Law School of repute will bring in Article 21 into an act between two individuals when the said Article is there to protect individual against the state. In fact, I argue here that the Government is actually infringing upon personal liberty of an individual by proposing such a Law.
The Laws promulgated in a land is indeed tinged with the political ideology of the ruling party in Government. As a dyed in wool FoE constituent, I refuse to accept the Government’s proscription of what is right and what is not for me in private matters. My right includes a right to find a bedrock of a belief system to guide me through my life. In that, this Act is ‘Left-liberal’ in nature. It intrudes into my personal affairs, attempts to root out the culture I grew up in irreversibly and irreparably. I, on the other hand, believe in safeguarding my personal freedom, not only from others but also from the Government. When someone infringes upon my freedom, IPC is sufficient but when the Government infringes upon my freedom, there is no recourse. Hence my ideology is to resist Government’s intrusion into my private matters and home.
The draft claims that “several recent incidents of this nature coming to light, the specific criminalisation of such practices along with spreading awareness of the ill-effects of superstitious practices of this nature have become imperative” (italics mine)  but fails to substantiate further. What would lend support to the claim that criminalisation has become imperative? Does the law permit Human sacrifice, in the absence of this proposed Act, for example? Does it require a new law to punish a murder, by whatever name it is called?

If there is proof that per capita number of ‘Superstition’ related crimes have grown in the last years, that alone can support the urgency of the claim. Without that, the claim is only political sloganeering. Is there any number to support the claim? I would suspect the actual per capital number is on a decline as a natural progression. Every society moves from crude to sophisticated ‘Superstitions’. Cigarettes are still being smoked today, right? Homeopathy is being advertised, right? Evangelists conduct miracle meeting to proselytize, right?
Several incidents coming to light may still actually be a declining trend. If the proponents of this bill still want to push for it, they will have to show that the decline is not sufficient and also have to demonstrate that the proposed bill will actually go to reduce such incidences with facts and figures. With no such demonstration, their claim is no better than the ‘superstition’ they wage war on.
The draft defines a ‘victimas one who is gravely harmed physically or mentally, exploited financially or sexually, or whose dignity is offended by the commission of a superstitious practice. Are the crimes listed out here not covered under IPC? It is true that few charlatans claiming to possess extraordinary powers cheat, take advantage and abuse people. As there are also people who do Poojas, prayaschitham and pariharam in good faith based on the culture they inherited from their forefathers. The State cannot punish a person for his belief; if it tries to do that, it will be akin to boiling the ocean. Unless, State wants to exempt minority religious groups from the Act. That actually will be violation of Article 14 of our Constitution.
How can a virgin give birth? Will this be covered by the act and consequently, declare this as propaganda (propagate’ means advertisement, publication, broadcast or communication of any content in support of superstitious practices) a violation of the Act and declare Christianity illegal in Karnataka?
How can religions claim that the true God will segregate people as those belonging to my religion and those not and threaten that Hell waits for those who had not accepted one particular God?
(‘threaten divine displeasure or spiritual censure for personal gain’ is a crime)
I see a mischief in the introduction of the word ‘personal gain’ as an attempt meant to exempt Evangelists though the proselytizing act is for a personal gain from one’s religious belief system.
Both religions from Abrahamic source use coercion and make claims that cannot be demonstrated. It stresses on the ‘divine displeasure’ if the victim does not convert. In fact their holy books have multiple references to many more irrational and superstitious claims. (These books are core to these religions unlike Hinduism which does not have any averment of truth) Will those books be banned too?
Any person who promotes, propagates or performs a superstitious practice shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than one year but which may extend to five years or with fine which shall not be less than ten thousand rupees but which may extend to fifty thousand rupees, or both.(2)  Consent of the victim shall not be a defence under this section.(3) Notwithstanding anything contained in this section, a victim of a superstitious practice shall not be guilty of committing or abetting that practice.
I would definitely expect all ‘Prayer meetings’ to be banned on the basis of aforementioned paragraph alone. Those who claim miracles in well published Evangelical public meetings are clear targets. I would have no quarrel with the act if this part is ruthlessly enforced. But the chances are, these sections will be used only against Hindus violating Article 14.
If only sees the customs cited, the intent of the Government and the drafters of the Bill becomes clear. Aghori, Siddubhukti , bhutochhaatane, maata etc etc. Let us remind ourselves the entire edifice of Abrahamic religions stand on coercion, threat and miracles. The Church should come under the ambit (low hanging fruits for stemming superstition) as its practice of beatification is clearly a ‘superstition’. Church claims that such dead people who are beatified, and intercede on behalf of those who pray. Until beatification is mentioned specifically, the whole proposal is a suspect.
The reason for this one sided assault is subtly explained in the following paragraph.
“The second phase involved legal experts carrying out background research and drafting the model Bill. The team included NLSIU faculty and eminent alumni trained in the area at internationally reputed universities like Oxford, Cambridge and Columbia.
 Do these people know the entire width and depth of Aghoris? Are Aghoris not people who voluntarily give up everything in pursuit of what they consider as ‘truth’ through ‘Aghori’ practices? The dumbing down of ‘Aghori’s is possible only by the English educated Protestantanized  class, that too from Oxford, Cambridge and Columbia, the new elite class that thrusts on to Indians values palatable to their Western masters. More on Aghoris, here
Let me explain how intrusive this bill can become. Conducting any ritual falls under the ambit of the act. Any homam will also will be covered. Any Pooja should also come under. Temples soon may have to stop worshiping ‘stone’. Only Hindus will be targeted, going by the record of every Congress Government. After all the PM from Congress once said that the first right of India’s economic resources belongs to Muslims.
Summing up, the whole bill is a sham. It seeks justification on Article 21 fallaciously while it attempts to subvert Article 14.  
Now let us come to what the educated and rationalists call as ‘Superstition’ with a real life story.
About a hundred years ago, one Quesalid, native Canadian Indian wanted to debunk Shamanism (equivalent of our ‘Superstition’) and for that purpose turned an apprentice under an experience one. Once during his apprenticeship, due to circumstances he was assigned to cure a nameless malady of a sick patient. Quesalid did a particular trick that would appear as a miracle to the patient. He hid a tuft of hair inside a mouth and at the end of a dramatic Shaman act, he bit his mouth, bled and pulled out the blood stained tuft as proof of driving out the evil that was the cause of the malady. To Quesalid’s surprise, the patient recovered. This completely changed the outlook of Quesalid and he was a Shaman till his death, saving people with Shaman act that was no better than trickery. Our own ‘Theyyam’ has elements of ‘Shamanism’ and it serves some people well.
In medicine the effect of placebo is undeniable. All we know is that placebo acts on the minds of people sufficiently to make them better in many cases. Science has not been able to isolate causal element in placebo. It has been documented that doctors who visit and or speak reassuringly have an effect on how a patient recovers. The color of the pill too has an impact on a patient’s recovery. Based on this alone, the selling of a medicine in a particular color qualifies as ‘Superstition’.

For that matter, the whole Homeopathy is based on unproven assumptions, yet is practiced with impunity. If Aghoris are spreading Superstition, so are Homeopaths. But those educated from Oxford, at the foot of Western masters will never run foul of German bunkum. It is the slave in them that dictates such a draft bill.
‘Expectation shapes experience’ is a conundrum these rationalists will not able to solve. People are not rational beings as being touted by these rationalists, least of all them. Beliefs are inherent part of culture and man is inextricable part of his culture. (Little pause for radical feminists to rant)
If at all we have to attack an irrational killer of millions, it is probably the tobacco. Instead of spending our limited resource, let NSL draft a bill, on similar line, probably without any inappropriate reference to Article 21 that Tobacco is a threat to the smokers and non-smokers. I am a non-smoker and a victim of those who smoke. Let me create an outrage of Libtard proportion. It is known that the cigarette burns at about 500 Degree F. Imagine how much the atmosphere is heated by all the smokers that contributes to the global warming (oops, now it is called Climate Change) Will NSL lunge at it with half the enthusiasm?
I doubt. These are motivated Law to destroy Indianness, by attacking one custom a time. Haven’t we heard about the outrage about Temple elephants full of fallacy and inaccuracies? Yet, the courts entertain such outrages as their education is the toxic left overs of Macaulay’s teaching.
That is the description of the problem. On the one hand, we have English educated elite (not all but a substantial section) who, unwittingly run errands to western interest and on the other, impoverished, trusting and well-meaning common Indian steeped in indigenous wisdom. I stand with the latter. Not with NSL drafters.

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