7th National Conference of Federation of Indian Rationalist Associations
The 7th National Conference of Federation
of Rationalist Associations (FIRA) was held
at the Auditorium of M.R.Radha Manram, Periyar Thidal, Chennai on 26th and 27th December in a grand manner. Representatives from more than 70 affiliated Rationalist Associations from various parts of the country participated in the conference. Thiru Narendra Nayak, President of FIRA presided over the conference. The special guests attending the conference were honoured by presenting shawls. Thiru V. Nehru, President, Tamil Nadu Rationalists Forum welcomed the gathering. Thiru V.Kumaresan, General Secretary of the Tamil Nadu Rationalists Forum compered the conference.
On the morning of 26th Dr.K. Veeramani, Patron of Tamil Nadu Rationalists’ Forum inaugurated the Conference and delivered his speech. (The speech is given elsewhere in this magazine).
In his presidential address, Thiru Narendra Nayak remembered the services of late Premanand. “The aim of this FIRA, having 70 affiliated Rationalist Associations, is to promote rationalism, secularism and scientific outlook. Late Abraham Kovoor had spread the rationalist thinking through his demonstrations exposing the hollowness of godmen. Rationalism has developed in Tamil Nadu as a mass movement. No political party which has no respect for Periyar can come to power in Tamil Nadu. Let us forget the differences between us and serve in the matters that unite us. It saddens us that the scientific inventions of TV and other media are used to propagate superstitions among people. We should promote scientific temper among people and prove that all the miracles are farce and deceit. It pains us that the Government of Karnataka is encouraging and supporting the cheats like Ravisankar. We are exposing the hollowness of godmen by conducting events like magic or miracle.” he said.
Dr. G.Vijayam, Executive Director of the Atheist Centre, Vijayawada released the Souvenir of the Conference. Dr.K.Veeramani and Thiru B.Chander of New Delhi received the first copy of the souvenir.
Periyar Lecturer G.V.K. Aasaan and Dr. G. Vijayam chaired consecutively two afternoon sessions. Delegates presented papers and spoke on topics, “Role of rationalism in eradicating Communalism’ and ‘Role of media in propagating secularism.’
While speaking Thiru G.V.K.Aasaan explained how the word ‘communal’, which denotes living of people in a common society was wrongly used for the hatred between the communities. He has also spoken in detail about the awareness that prevailed in Tamil Nadu about the concept of social justice, and how the upper caste people instigated violence, when Thiru V.P.Singh, as Prime Minister, introduced reservation to OBCs in Government appointments. He has also cited the demolition of Babri Masjit and the consequent communal riots that erupted. He condemned the post-Godhra genocide of Muslims in Gujarat. He said that the vested interests are trying to divert the attention of the ignorant people from the problems faced by them by immersing them in religious devotion and developing religious fanaticism. It is the duty of rationalists to educate the people to give up superstitious beliefs by inculcating scientific temper.
Tmt Ms.A. Arulmozhi, advocate of Madras High Court condemned the stories propagated in the name of Hindu religion and said that people were made to forget about the teachings of Buddha. She pointed out that the provision of communal reservation was introduced by Government Order for the first time in the then Madras Presidency by the Justice Party Government. She wondered how the people still believe that practising untouchability is not a crime.
Thiru R.G.Rao, President of Goa Science Forum insisted that humanism should be respected, and scientific temper should be developed.
Thiru Vidya Bushan Rawat, Director of Delhi Social Development Foundation said that the ideals of Periyar should be translated in many languages and be made to reach all parts of the world. “Periyar thoughts will help to defeat the religious fanaticism. The secularism preached by Gandhi is the Varnasrama dharma concept of Brahminism. But true secularism should denounce the Varnasrama Dharma”, he said.
Thiru B.S.Barnala of Taraksheel Society of Punjab said that the religious heads are propagating superstitions among people and rationalists have to undertake much more propaganda meeting more number of people.
Thiru Prince Ennares Periyar, Creative Head of Periyar Web Vision, Chennai, Thiru T.V.Manoj of Bengaluru Rationalist Association explained how the print and electronic media are unco-operative in combating fundamentalism and communalism.
A short film ‘Thira’ (open it) produced by Thiru Prince Ennares Periyar was screened; it was widely appreciated as movingly portraying the cruelty done to Muslim woman by Hindutva elements.
In the evening a documentary film on late B.Premanand “Mystery Hunter” was screened. It shows how courageously and consistently Premanand took steps to expose the claims of performing miracles. Then the feature film “Periyar” was screened.
On the morning of 27th, Thiru U.Kalanathan, National Secretary of FIRA presented the performance report. Thiru V. Kumaresan, Treasurer submitted the accounts of the FIRA, which was approved by the general body. The general body also discussed about the past activities and proposed the activities to be undertaken in future.
Dr.R.T.Sabapathy Mohan, Vice-Chancellor of Manonmaniam Sundaranar University, Tirunelveli delivered the valedictory address. He told that Periyar’s Self-respect Movement has made Tamil Nadu a land of rationalist and humanist outlook. After Periyar Dr.K.Veeramani continues to spread his ideals, inspiring thousands of youth. The Chief Minister Kalaignar Dr.M.Karunanidhi, following Arignar Anna’s democratic footsteps, has created a conducive atmosphere for the spread of rationalist, humanist and secular ideals and values.
In the afternoon session, resolutions were proposed by members and after discussion the following resolutions were unanimously passed by the General Body.
The general body of FIRA request the Government of India and concerned state governments to fulfil the following demands, (1) To enact a bill for the separation of religion from politics, Judiciary ,Education and the administration . This demand is repeatedly directed by the Supreme Court and recently demanded by Leberhan Commission Report. (2). To take necessary steps to eradicate superstitions and evil customs , along with advertisements based there on by media. (3). To implement a Uniform Civil Code as per Article 44 of Indian Constitution and as per the two verdicts of the Supreme Court. (4). To take necessary steps on any type of terrorism, foreign financial assistance to terrorists and illegal importing of weapons by them, (5). To stop all steps of religious subsidies such as Hajj Subsidy, Temple subsidy, Madrasa workers’ Pension etc., as they are against the spirit of Art. 28 of our Constitution. (6). To make necessary changes in the Special Marriage Act, so as to make the registration of all types of marriages compulsory as per law. (7). To take necessary steps to abolish religious symbols, cults, cash collection centres etc. in public places and to avoid all attempts to build new religious worship centres at public places by encroachment. This has been directed by the Supreme Court. Hence speedy steps may be taken courageously. (8). To undertake speedy and necessary measures to help more than a lakh of internally displaced Tamils to settle permanently and comfortably in their respective native places in Srilanka. Government of India and the International Community should put pressure on Sri Lankan Government to act justly in this respect on humanitarian grounds. (9). To take steps to undertake the responsibility of educating the next Indian generation, to get rid of superstitions, pseudo sciences, and religious ideologies through general education.