According to rationalists, people’s belief in superstitions is not waning because indoctrination of children begins at home. “We have been fighting the charlatans who fool people in the name of religion and have exposed their so-called miracles by performing them in public places. But the problem is while children learn science in school, at home they see their parents believing in superstitious practices, which become part of their lives,” says Mranish Ray Chaudhuri, general secretary, Science and Rationalists’ Association of India.
“These faith healers, tantriks and babas can be booked under The Drugs and Magic Remedies (Objectionable Advertisements) Act, 1954, meant to control and prohibit advertisements for certain remedies alleged to possess magic qualities. But there is no political will to fight them,” Chaudhuri says. The Association has set up a Rs 50 lakh challenge for anyone who can prove their supernatural powers.
Sanal says our education system teaches science but not scientific temper. “Heavy dependence on religiosity promotes hyper vulnerability and critical faculties are suspended. So, people easily accept the irrational claims of the gurus, babas and tantriks about their supernatural powers,” says Sanal.
“The shocking Burari mass suicides prove where superstitions can take you. It is high time the government monitors and controls the activities of babas and faith-healers and take steps to educate people about the need to use their critical faculties to fight superstitions.”