Saturday, 17 March 2012

8th FIRA National Conferance - A Report

V Kumaresan

VIII National Conference of Federation of Indian Rationalist Associations (FIRA) was held at Nagpur, Maharashtra on 11th  and 12th  February 2012. FIRA constitutes 83 Rationalist Associations from different states of the country. 

The  Conference was held at Hindi Bhawan Ram Gopal Maheswari Subagraha, Rani Jhansi Square, Sitabuldi, Nagpur. The Conference was hosted by Akhil Bharatiya Andhashraddha Nirmoolan Samithi (ABANS), an affiliate of FIRA along with the Association for Research and Training in Basic Science Education, Nagpur.

First Day Proceedings 


Registration of Delegates
The Conference was inaugurated by Dr. Vilas Sapkal, Vice-Chancellor, Rashtrasant Tukdoji Maharaj University, Nagpur. He emphasised that the development of scientific temper which is mentioned as one of the fundamental duties of Indian Constitution in Article 51 (a) h, has to be propagated among the masses. Once the scientific temper develops the superstition would automatically vanish . Prof. Sharad Patil, President, Gaikwad-Patil Group of Institutions, Nagpur delivered the  Presidential address. While addressing, he pointed out that rationalist movement must take up propaganda primarily against the self styled god-men, devils, tantriks, sorcerers, astrologers and such others who befool and exploit the gullible public.  These unscrupulous elements, for their own selfish gains, encourage the common man’s belief in irrational superstitions such as fate, astrology, rebirth, ghosts, sorcery, witchcraft, miracles, magic, charms, spells, dubious  curse etc.

The theme of the conference, ‘The Rise of Intolerance in India’ was explained by Prof. Narendra Nayak, National President, FIRA. Introductory speech was delivered by Harish Deshmukh, National Secretary,   Umesh Choubey, National  Working President – ABANS welcomed and the inaugural session was concluded with  the vote of thanks by Dr.N.D.Patil.

Dr Vilas Sapkal, Vice Chancellor, Rastrasant
Tukdoji Maharaj University, inaugurating the 8th National Conference
of FIRA held in Nagpur by cutting a string of 7 chillies & a lemon,
a charm commonly used by the Hindus to ward-off evil
Prof. Shyam Manav, Founder and Organiser ABANS delivered a special lecture on ‘Role of Rationalism in Development of Country and Humanism.’ The Biennial Reports of FIRA affiliate member organizations were presented by the respective functionaries. The brief  of various propaganda activities including conducting seminar, workshop, publication of rationalist literature were explained by the functionaries. The session proceedings took place in the presence of the National Executive Committee  Members. Madhukar Kample, National President, ABANS, chaired the session.

After lunch, technical sessions  started. U.Kalanathan, Patron, FIRA and President, Kerala Yukthivathi Sangham presented a paper on ‘Secularisation of India.’ He strongly advocated the initiative of separating politics from religion which will facilitate the sustenance of real secularism in the country. superstition  breaking and miracle exposure demonstrations

In the evening superstition  breaking and miracle exposure demonstrations were conducted out by the volunteers of rationalist movement. Walking over thorny platform was demonstrated, exhibiting nothing divine in it except  familiarity and frequent  practices to do it.

Delegates at the Conference

After dinner, an interactive session was addressed by Babu Gogineni, International Director, International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU). He discussed  the probable problems and challengers that EVERY rationalist organization might have to face in the prevailing environment and how to function under such circumstances effectively.

Second Day Proceedings  

Miracle Exposure Public Rally

Miracle Exposure Rally - Exposing the 'miracle' of eating burning camphor
At first, miracle exposure public rally was organised where all the delegates representing various rationalist organisations took part. Pulling the Ambassador car by the volunteers, by needle stitched string on their back, demonstrations exposing the deeds of black magic, sorcery – were the phases  of the procession. The procession captured the attention of the public at large.

Session: The Rise of Intolerance in India

G Vijayam presenting his paper. Sitting from the right: V Kumaresan,,
Ramachandra CST Voltaire, Dhaneswar Sahoo
Again the proceedings were started in the auditorium. The technical session ,’ The Rise of Intolerance in India’ was chaired by V.Kumaresan, General Secretary, The Rationalists’  Forum, Tamil Nadu. ( Please see the  excerpts  of the speech in page no 27 to 29) The functionaries of other rationalist organisations viz. Prof. Dhaneshwar Sahoo of Orissa Rationalist Association, Dr.G.Vijayam of Atheist Centre, Vijayawada, Prof. Balwinder Singh Barnala of Turksheel Society, Punjab,  Jayagopal of Atheist Society of India, Visakapatnam, Dr. Anand of Science for Society, Jharkhand, T.V.Manoj of Bangalore Rationalist Association, Ramachandra C.S.T. Voltaire of AMOFOI, Bhubaneswar presented their papers on the rise of intolerance.

Panel Session : Modern Spiritual Godman’s Industry

The Panel Session on “Modern Spiritual Godman’s Industry”  chaired by R.G.Rao a.k.a. Somu,  National Secretary, FIRA.  V.Nehru, President of the Rationalists’ Forum, Tamil Nadu  presented his paper. While addressing, he reminded all the charges leveled against Sai Baba by the rationalists got exposed after his death. More valuables both in kind and cash were recovered from his private room. In Tamil Nadu, Sankaracharya of Kanchi Mutt , the first accused in the murder of the temple manager  which is under the judicial proceedings  is freely wandering under religious clout. Dr.K.Veeramani, President, Dravidar Kazhagam   two decades back exposed by delivereing serial lectures on ‘Who is Sankaracharya?’  After the arrest of Sankaracharya, again he delivered through series of   lectures, ‘ Divine Deeds ! ’. The earlier exposure became a reality now. What rationalists exposed earlier becomes known to the  public explicitly at present.

Resolutions :

To conclude the conference the resolutions were passed on the following lines to strengthen the activities of FIRA.

- to conduct marches towards Parliament for separating politics from religion.
- to form an exclusive Law Commission to enable  insertion of provisions and enactment to adhere the secular value of the state machinery.
- to facilitate the enactment against superstitious belief, black magic, sorcery, etc.
- to conduct training programmes especially for youth on eradication of superstitions.

New National Executive Committee – FIRA

The following functionaries were elected for the National Executive Committee.

Patron: Dr.G.Vijayam, Atheist Centre, Vijayawada.

National President: Prof. Narendra Nayak, Dhakshina Kannada Rationalist Association.

Vice-Presidents:V.Kumaresan, The Rationalists’ Forum, Tamil Nadu, Prof. Balwinder Singh Barnala, Turksheel Society, Punjab, Harish Deshmukh, Akhil Bhartiya Andhashraddha Nirmoolan Samiti, Nagpur, Prof. Dhaneswar Sahoo, Orissa Rationalists Association Bhubaneswar, Kranti, Maharashtra Andolan Nirmoolan Samithi, Pune,Sukumaran, Kerala Yukthivathi Sangham, Thiruvananthapuam

National Secretary: U.Kalanathan, Kerala Yukthivathi Sangham
Publishers of rationalist literature had their presence at the conference

Secretaries: South Zone: V.Nehru, The Rationalists’ Forum ,Tamil Nadu, North Zone: Binder , Turksheel Society, Punjab, East Zone: Samba Siva Rao, Manava Vikasa Vedika , Andhra Pradesh,West Zone: Anil Kumar, Kerala Yukthivathi sangham

Treasurer: R.G.Rao a.k.a. Somu, Goa Science Forum, Panjim Goa

(Courtesy: The Modern Rationalist, March 2012)

(V Kumaresan, Rationalist Forum, Tamil Nadu, 
is one of the Vice-Presidents of FIRA) 


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