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India: Karnataka Government’s Unconstitutional Action

by Vidya Bhushan Rawat, 24 August 2012

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Mainstream, August 11, 2012

The Karnataka Government’s order asking the temples of the State to perform rituals so that rain comes to save the farmers and cattle of the State is a blatant violation of the Constitution. Can a State Government of a secular country invest huge amount of money on performing puja to bring rain? How will this influence the minds of our children?

The Karnataka Government’s Revenue Department has issued a circular to nearly 34,000 temples of the State to conduct several rituals to bring rains in the State so that the farmers may be saved from the severe drought situation prevailing there. It is not that these rituals would be performed free of cost. The State Government has made elaborate arrangements to fund these ‘projects’ but, according to political leaders of the State, it might come from other schemes. The government, it seems, is determined that once these rituals are performed, the Gods will be pleased and rain will pour in the State for the welfare of the people and cattle. According to news published in The Hindu, the government has sanctioned a maximum of Rs 5000 for each temple and the amount costing the event would be around Rs 17 crores. The government has too much faith in some of the temples which are mentioned in the circular.

This GO is a serious violation of India’s Constitution which, as per Article 51A, asks the government to promote humanism and scientific temperament. The other noted violation is the secular Preamble of our Constitution. If the government believes in different powers of Gods, then it must give support to all the religious institutions so that it is not charged with blatantly violating the secular Constitution of the country and promoting the activities of a particular faith.

Unfortunately, such incidents have not happened all of a sudden in Karnataka and other States where the Hindutva party is in power. Those who see the RSS and BJP as two different outfits, make the mistake of ignoring the nature of the political class of the Hindutva party which has learnt its basics in the RSS and when they come to power, their first agenda is to impose those communal and sectarian ideas on the people. The flirtation of the Hindutva party with Mutths is an open secret. After Gujarat, Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh became the laboratory of the Sangh Parivar. They do not seem to work for the people but are using the issues which are sentimental and will take people back to the primitive age. The States have open-heartedly given huge amounts of land to big swamis, Babas and other religious gurus while no land is found for redistribution to the poor.

Last year, during a historical celestial event, Madhya Pradesh’s Minister for Science deplored scientitists for saying that the eclipse does not influence anything, leave alone ‘Graha’, and it is not an event that we should celebrate. The Minister virtually chided Prof Yash Pal, one of the very few academics who have been very vocal in promoting science and scientific temperament in the country, saying that he was speaking against ‘proven’ Indian values. In Madhya Pradesh, the schools are forced to do ‘Surya Namaskar’. In both Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh, the schools have been asked to educate students about Gita, the holy text of the brahmanical Hindus. The Ministers for Education in these States defended their action terming Gita as a secular book and good for everyone. And this has happened despite the fact that education should be made secular and free from religious biases put in the text. The minorities and all those who do not believe in these texts and faiths face difficulty in going to the government schools. This clearly means that it is a violation of the constitutional rights of the people to go to school as the schools and educational system are promoting a particular religious brand and its values. Just a few days ago, we watched in horror how a young girl was compelled to sit on fast in Aligarh to bring rain. Soon, the girl became a ‘Devi’ and thousands of women and men started sitting around her and supporting her cause to please God ‘Indra’. It was a terrible site and rationalists condemned this incident as the girl was suffering and really did not even know what she was doing but those surrounding her were making her a ‘goddess’. Finally, the district administration acted and the fasting of the girl was stopped. The monsoon was already on its way in the north.

HENCE, the Karnataka Government’s order to temples to perform certain rituals to bring rains in the State is a dark chapter in the history of India. It may look simple but it violates our Constitution and takes us back to those ages where we impose the brahmanical supremacy on the people of the State. Can a State where we have the finest scientists and institutions of science allow such acts? Why does Karnataka need Infosys, Wipro and other institutions which have made the State proud by their hard work and research? There is an Indian Institute of Science in Banglore, apart from Hindustan Aeronautics Limited but these have no meaning when the government of the State focuses on these issues which are nothing but utterly communal and blatantly violate our Constitution. That these are happening through a government order is more shameful. For the individual cases of spreading superstition, we can ask the State to take action against the individuals as happened in the cases of Nirmal Baba, Pappu Baba and others but what action should be taken against a State Government which is wasting taxpayers’ money on fictitious rituals meant to help the Brahmins of the State? It seems that the temples of Karnataka are not receiving any funds and that they need government charity of Rs 5000 each to keep Lord Indra happy. If the Karnataka Government has no faith in the Met Department, it must close it down and appoint a group of Brahmins to dictate the auspicious moments for everything. We all know how former Prime Minister Deve Gowda took oath on an auspicious day when he became the Prime Minister but those auspicious occasions did not stop the fall of Gowda and his family. Yeddyurappa has performed numerous Yajnas but those could not save him from vacating his seat which he has still to reoccupy. The Central Government must act on such rhetoric of the States. One thing is sure: there is a need for Central guidelines on the issue of promoting scientific temperament, humanism and human rights. That apart, the state should also be send specific guidelines how our secular values should form part of our curriculum and anything which bars our children from creative thinking and modern outlook should be prohibited. It is the duty of the state to promote the ideas of democracy, human rights, scientific temperament, humanism so that our children are prepared for the 21st century and do not follow those primitive brahmanical ideas that have stopped our march to modernity and brought disrepute to the country.

P.S.

The above article from Mainstream weekly is reproduced here for educational and non commercial use.