Homage to Narendra Dabholkar

Anil Kakodkar

We live in a fiercely competitive era. The competition has progressively intensified due to several causes. There is always a basic animal instinct to survive, to grab resources, to create and preserve privileged position of advantage and such others. Humans over years have learnt to better understand our surroundings, learnt to create better value addition to resources as available in nature and create better amenities for self-protection and living comforts. In the process, significant harm has been inflicted not only on other living species and nature at large but also on the less privileged fellow human beings.

The thinking mind of humans has also evolved in parallel and has been shaping a more humane society which is more holistic and sensitive to nature and fellow human beings. The spirit of sharing expanded from within the close family boundaries to wider domains. Cultures have evolved, human values developed. In India we are proud of the spirit of World is one family, Trusteeship, Peaceful Coexistence and such concepts that are a part of our rich heritage.

Right thinking and forward-looking people have always been perceived as a threat by the established incompetent.That often leads to a variety of measures on their part to preserve their constituency and the sphere of influence. I think, creation and peddling of superstition is one such phenomenon to which the uninformed simple-minded people fall prey.

While the higher level of intelligence that humans possess and their continuously improving understanding of the things around, have made them all too powerful, faith that there is much more beyond what we currently understand enables us avoid becoming arrogant and remain modest and sensitive to others. This is one of the key values that we have rightly nurtured and preserved. Blind faith however leads to uninformed minds falling prey to the designs of those who propagate them. While this phenomenon is widely prevalent and harms the society, the worst impact is on the weak and under privileged in the society. The sustained work of Maharashtra Andhshraddha Nirmulan Samiti (MANS) has been of crucial importance in this context. It is important to create higher level of enlightenment in the society to cope up with this menace but more importantly it is necessary to protect the weak and the under privileged in the society.

At this stage, I must express respects to path breaking work of Hutatma Narendra Dabholkar and the courageous team created by him. The entire society must uphold the cause being pursued by MANS and support it in every possible way. That would be the true shradhanjali to the Hutatma.

As I mentioned earlier, in my view, andhshraddha is one of the symptoms of the conflict between those who would want to take the world forward towards being a better place and those who feel threatened by their efforts. With continuously depleting earth resources and a larger part of humanity still deprived of their equitable right of development, I feel this conflict will only intensify further. We are now perhaps at the threshold of global eco-instability (climate change threat is already staring at us) on one side and major human conflict between the haves and the have-nots on the other.

Presently, we are in the knowledge era. In contrast with the industrial era, knowledge technologies are well suited to greater decentralisation and democratisation of economic activities. The urban-rural divide as well as the rich poor divide can now be more easily bridged. For a country like India, with the window of demographic advantage that we currently have, this is a window of opportunity that should not be allowed to be squandered away. A large country like ours must act to stabilise the earth with the same human ingenuity that has brought us thus far. This would require meeting the rising human needs with minimum earth resources, making consumption more equitable and creating circular economy with much reduced earth burden well within the carrying capacity of the earth. These are major challenges that can be resolved only on the basis of improved science and technology and human understanding.

Going forward, I believe, higher level of educational attainment and the scientific temper in the society are the keys to effectively address thesechallenges, both related to human conflicts as well as sustainable human development. Unfortunately, beyond lip service, our efforts in these regards are far too short of the requirement. We must recognise that education is a part of our fundamental rights and scientific temper is a part of our fundamental duties in accordance with the Indian constitution and act expeditiously.

Today the world is changing at an accelerated pace.The challenge then is to not only bridge the knowledge divide quickly but also to catch up and be in tune with the rapid strides that are taking place globally. It is unlikely that the formal Governance systems will be able to keep pace with the rapidly changing needs. As a society we must thus take a lead in reshaping our future. Narendra Dabholkar had the courage to take that lead. The least we can do is to pick up same courage and do our bit.

Email: kakodkaranil@gmail.com