The 9th WAC
|The inagural dais|
I am one among many who missed Lavanam Gora -the pioneer atheist, who passed away a few months back. I had met him four years back during the 8th edition of the WAC at Trichy, Tamil Nadu. He firmly believed in potential of the youth and stood as a motivator.
The indomitable Dr Vijayam conducted the proceedings with the usual flair. Another doyen of Indian rationalist thought – Dr Veeramani inaugurated the WAC in his usual and exemplary spirit. He carries forward the torch of self respect , equality, and humanism lit by another great rationalist – Periyar. As I greeted Dr Veeramani, I was surprised to hear him mention my name. "You still remember me, Sir" was my reaction. "How can we forget you" was his response. Remembering small things is a quality of great leaders.
Stalwarts likeProf Narendra Nayak and Babu Goginini were at their usual best. Prof Narandra Nayak talked about threats to his life as one newspaper reported him to be on the hitlist of those who have already assassinated Narendra Dhabolka, Govind Pansare, and M M Kalburgi. In a lighter vein Prof Nayak said he was not happy about being at number seven on that list. What will I have to do to get a higher ranking, he joked amid clapping and laughter of the audience.
Need for scientific temperament and secularism being the theme was amply discussed and deliberated upon both in speeches as well as in plenary sessions. Babu Goginini gave a beautiful presentation on secularism.
Secularism is clearly a skewed concept in India. It stresses upon equality of all religions but doesn't ensure equality for all individuals. We need a uniform civil code as the minimum basic to ensure equality in law and society. In the plenary session on secularism when I raised the uniform civil code I found support from Dr Rastad – the President of the Norwegian Humanist Association, who cited many examples of what some of the European countries have not only legislated but implemented as well. Unfortunately, a mention of a uniform civil code evokes a negative response from some atheists. They perhaps identify the ucc with hindutva. At the same time they also want secularism properly defined. Ironical.