We have great pleasure in placing this report before the people of Maharashtra. The work of ANS is expanding in all respects. It is noteworthy that the work goes on only with popular support and without any grants from either the government or any foreign aid agency. It is a people’s movement that eradicates superstition, engenders scientific outlook and puts into practice the Satyashodhaki (search of truth) legacy bequeathed to Maharashtra by Mahatma Jotiba Phule. It grows with peoples’ co-operation and affection.
This report pertains to the period June 2007 to May 2008 and is a very brief account of ANS’ work. But it will, it is hoped, give a fairly accurate idea of its work. Suggestions are welcome as they will help us reset our course in appropriate direction and make our programmes more significant. ANS take this opportunity to express their heartfelt gratitude to all those who have contributed to these programmes in one way or other.
State level conference for supporting and organizing inter-caste, inter-religion marriages: This conference was held at Latur by ANS on 12th/13th of Jan. 2008. The objective of this conference was to present a model of an ideal inter-caste/inter-religion marriage before the society in order to gain its full support for such marriages. Ex vice Chancellor, Janardan Vaghmare, Dr. A.H. Salunkhe, Dr. Baba Adhav, Prof. Pushpa Bhave, Dr. Vijayam Gora (Andhra Pradesh), Sunita Dhumale (USA), MLA Vikram Kale and Vilas Vagh attended the conference and offered valuable guidance. In this conference, ANS decided to establish centres for helping couples of inter-caste/inter-religion marriages in all parts of Maharashtra.
March to establish communication for opposing the ‘Dakin’
custom: This inhuman custom of exploiting women prevails in the tribal districts of the state. ANS has been, for the last three years, opposing this practice tirelessly in the Nandurbar District. To eradicate this practice the Nandurbar district administration, Maharashtra, ANS and a few other organizations organized a march from Dhadgaon (Nandurbar District) to the seat of the Adivasi Deity, ‘Devamogaradevi’ in Gujarat. The participants of the march contacted 7000 Adivasis in 300 villages. Well known people from various fields-health, education, politics, social work and reform movements participated and resolved to eradicate this inhuman practice.
State level conference of Friends of Serpents: The first such conference was organized by the state forest department and the ANS on Jan. 18th and 19th in Aurangabad. Their slogan was, ‘We will not let any body be killed by snake bite; will not kill any snake and will not violate any law’. Forest Minister, Babanrao Pachapute; Chief Secretary of Forest Department, J.P. Dange and others attended the conference along with Friends of the Snakes from 32 districts. The Forest Minister Babanrao Pachpute announced an annual ‘Friend of Snakes’ reward and resolved to hold such conference every year.
Debate on ‘Declaration on Education in Scientific Outlook and Eradication of Superstition: This debate was held on 23rd and 24th Feb.2008, in Pune. Dr. Raosaheb Kasabe, Prof. Dr. N.D. Patil, Dr. Achyut Godbole, Shri Datta Desai, Dr. Sudhir Panse, Dr. Yashavanta Sumant, Dr. Anant Phadake, Dr. Naresh Dadhich, Dr. Shriram Lagu, Amol Palekar and Prof. Ashok Bhoite guided the debate. Representatives of a number of Educational Institutions-Principals, Professors- and ANS activists attended in large numbers. Composing this kind of declaration was a first such attempt in India. Educational Institutions are being approached for accepting the declaration. This will boost up ANS’ work in the field of education.
Conference for ‘Search ofTruth behind Miracles’: Some leading politicians wanted to felicitate Anuraadhabai Deshmukh, on completing 25 years of her so called miracle of producing ‘Vibhuti’ through her fingers. ANS held the above conference at Latur on 16th Dec. 2007 to oppose this attempt to give social prestige to such a trivial so called miracle and the miracle monger. Dr. N.D. Patil, Comrade Narassaiya Adam, Bhai Pannalal Surana, Arun Deshpande, Bhai S.M.Patil graced the largely attended conference. The Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh was expected to attend the felicitation of Anuradha Bai. But the atmosphere against it created by ANS prevented him from attending such crass miracle mongering.
Struggle against Buvabaji: The strength of ANS lies in the constant struggle against Buvabaji. In the year of this report ANS have achieved a great deal in this respect. The Kalki Bhagavan, a comparatively recent self proclaimed ‘tenth incarnation’ from the south has started spreading his tentacles in Maharashtra. His one time colleague from an educational institution, Vishvanath Swami (Chennai) is determined to expose him. ANS arranged Swami’s public lectures and press conferences all over Maharashtra. The Goa ANS exposed one Chauvan Guruji who claims that he awakens people’s Kundalini (whatever that means), so that they attain liberation. Shirtode (literally one who breaks heads!) Maharaj from Atapadi in Sangali District used to claim that he can bring rain by performing Yadnya. ANS challenged him and stopped his fraudulent business. A Shanimata from Shahada (District Nandurbar) produced vermilion from her fingers, ate burning camphor and performed such other miracles. ANS exposed her thoroughly. A modern Buvabaji of Dr. Ashvinikumar who used ‘mind power’ to bend spoons was also exposed by ANS. The Church at Dapodi (in Pune) was doling out charmed water to people to cure them from all diseases. ANS distributed leaflets against this fraud and was successful in making the Church discontinue the practice.
Allah’s Woman: A god woman (rather an Alla’s woman) Saida Garadi from Kolhapur was exposed by ANS workers. Many more instances like-Malibaba of Jalagaon promising sons, Dattababa of Gadahinglaj who claimed to expel a ghost through the nose of the afflicted individual, Ratnamala Dharankar from Chandrapur, Rameshvar Shastri of Hinganghat, Sikandar Shahbaba of Jalana, Madhukar Joshi of Bhusaval and Sharmababa from Bhusaval- totalling about 70 can be added to the list of this years work of exposing Buvabaji. In addition the many cases of Bhanamati from Umarkhed, Latur and Islampur were bared and resolved by ANS activists during the current year.
Nirmalamata: ANS registered their protest against the felicitation of Nirmalamata by the Pune Municipal Corporation by sitting blind folded in the Mahatma Phule Wada for a day.
Cutting off matted locks of hair: There is a widespread belief that hair gets matted because of divine wrath and cutting those matted locks invites the death of the person with locks as well as the one who cuts them. ANS activists cut the locks of the following people giving them great relief from the filthy, grimy locks as well as the superstitious belief. Their names: Dipali Kaka Madane, an eight year old girl from Peth (Valava Taluka); Mrs. Nirmala Popat Madane,37 years, from Bendri (Tasgaon, Dist. Sangali); Masa Kundalik Banasode, 49 years, from Mohol (Dist. Solapur) and Mrs. Vimal Jadhav, 43 years, from Satara.
Satyashodhaki Marriage: ANS centres at Kolhapur and Latur encourage and help inter-caste and inter-religion marriages. Both these centres together performed 33 inter-caste and 14 inter-religion marriages. A cordial contact with the parents of such couples is invariably solicited.
Celebrating the Commitment to the Constitution: This celebration was held on the 26th of Jan. by ANS starting with flag hoisting by a toiling Dalit woman, procession of the Constitution of India, a public discourse and ending with a declaration of commitment to the Constitution. The festival received an encouraging response from 20 districts of Maharashtra.
Echo-friendly Holi Celebration: ANS offers constructive, imaginative and suitable alternatives to all absurd religious practices. This includes: collecting and burning of waste, burning an effigy of vices social as well as ones own. This year, with the enthusiastic help of the Harit-Sena of the department of social a-forestation these programmes were very effectively celebrated all over Maharashtra.
Resolve of Youth-In the Service of the Country: This movement commenced on 9th Aug.- the Kranti Din (Revolution Day) – with the joint efforts of North Maharashtra University and ANS. Former Minister, Honourable Madhukarrao Chaudhari, Vyankatanna Ranadhir, Vice Chancellor Dr. Mukund Baride, Jaykumar Raval, MLA, Prof. Subhash Vare, and Navanath Shinde graced the occasion.
The First Ever Test of Astrology: There had been no test in India to ascertain whether Astrology is a science. ANS has developed such a scientific test. Significantly the test was developed under the guidance of Dr. Jayant Naralikar. Consequently IUCAA, the prestigious institution of Astronomy and Astrophysics in India too participated in the test. The department of Statistics of the University of Pune have offered to help in developing the test and analyzing results. ANS is also struggling to get the study of Astrology in higher education introduced by the UGC discontinued.
Progress in getting the Law ‘on exploiting superstition’enacted: This law has been inching forward since long. Many difficulties still persist. The law has now been passed on to the Joint Committee that consists of many MLAs holding a positive attitude towards it. Yet its progress is very slow. ANS is struggling hard to hasten the process. However considering the lethargy on the part of the government, the ANS is planning to initiate a movement around the beginning of the monsoon session.
Eco-friendly Immersion of Ganesh Idols and Offerings to the deity: The organization has carried out this programme for over ten years on a very large scale in the face of opposition by Hinduist organizations. This became possible because of people’s strong support. A noteworthy development conducive to ANS’ work is that this year the Maharashtra Government Pollution Control Committee have issued orders to provide alternative facilities for this purpose in accordance with Supreme Courts directions for controlling pollution. The demand made by ANS is thus met with by concrete action.
ANS’ Participation in Police Training: There are a number of Police Training Centres in Maharashtra with 500 trainees in each of them. There are some important auxiliary topics in their training like scientific outlook and eradication of superstition. ANS’ assistance in the shape of training and demonstrations in this respect are much valued by both the trainee police and their officers.
Organisation: The organization works through 180 branches covering 30 districts of Maharashtra. The programmes offered by the ANS are much in demand. Many NGOs want to introduce them in their states. During the year of this report all the branches of the ANS together have arranged 1500 lectures and similar programmes to awaken people. ANS seems to be the only organization that offers programmes of awakening the people on such large scales attracting remarkable response. A disciplined participation of youth from all castes and creeds is another important distinctive feature of ANS.
Dr. Narendra Dabholkar