Sunday, April 15, 2007




I was reading an article about rise of religious fundamentalism in Pakistan in the ``The Hindu'' Magazine today, For some reason, the article reminded me of a post on a mailing list about the large proportion of religious fundamentalists among the ``nerds'' a.k.a. scientists. The post on mailing list was a forward from this blog entry.

What is common between the two?

I will attribute both behaviours to lack of social awareness.

The society is made up of individual human beings. Individual human beings are imperfect. Therefore, the society will be imperfect. This is a fact which most people (even me, till about 10 years back) will find very difficult to digest. Scientists live and work in a very small, tightly knit, and most importantly, homogeneous, community, among similarly thinking people, with similar education, social and cultural values. And yes, they are an isolated lot. Isolated from the society, its diversities, imperfections, chinks and all.

Fundamentalism, irrespective of caste, creed or religion it stands for, too breeds in a similar background. Whether it be in the numerous ``shakhas'' or ``madrassass'' or wherever else the training is imparted.

Uniformity, regularity, homogeneity, and singularity tend to be very efficient --- in the short term. In a society consisting of imperfect human beings with diverse needs, these qualities will quickly breed factionalism and bigotry.

That is what Pakistan is suffering from ever since their Independence. It was first the ``West"" versus the ``East''. Then it was about the ``mohajirs'' - the muslims who migrated from India hoping that Jinnah would actually deliver. Then it was between the shias and sunnis.

And this is the fate that will befall India if we succumb to religious dogmas.

You will first support your religion.

Then they will say that you do not belong to your religion if you do not attend the weekly meetings.

Next, you will be told that you have been following the wrong religion because you do not worship ``<ideal god>''.

You may be be able to hold our against a few more distinctions. Then, ultimately, you will be told that you, like ``them'', will have to leave the country.

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