ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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The Rationalist Movement against Quack Healing

Critical Questions

Following the murder of the anti-superstition crusader Narendra Dabholkar in Maharashtra there has been a lot of outrage against quacks and "babas". However, in a diverse and pluralist country, it is difficult to determine which healing practices constitute "superstition" and which are genuine. Further, the rationalist movement fails to distinguish adequately between faith and blind faith often seeing the opposition between science and religion in either/or terms. In this rationalist world view, there is little space for the mystical, spiritual, or even the cultural and symbolic.

The horrific murder of the anti-superstition crusader Narendra Dabholkar sparked considerable outrage in several quarters of society, particularly in Maharashtra. The brutal killing set off heated debates in academic, activist, and political circles about the perils posed by fascist, right-wing elements that seek to threaten the secular-liberal-humanist cause of rationalism. While strongly condemning this brutal killing, it is nonetheless important to reflect on some of the rationalist claims of the anti-superstition movement. Without in any way seeking to dilute the gravity of the shocking murder, this article considers one issue that is at the heart of the rationalist movement: the question of quack healers and local healing practices in society.

Anti-Superstition Movement

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