Law, faith, unreason: 

Law, faith, unreason

Context:

  • The Karnataka Prevention and Eradication of Inhuman Evil Practices and Black Magic Bill, 2017 has been approved by the State Cabinet and is likely to be introduced soon in the Assembly.
  • The approval of the bill is definitely a step towards complete eradication of black magic and inhuman practices.

What are the objectives of the Karnataka Prevention and Eradication of Inhuman Evil Practices and Black Magic Bill, 2017?

  • It is not just an anti-superstition bill.
  • It seeks to prohibit actions that offend human dignity, result in the exploitation of gullible and vulnerable people or cause harm to them.
  • Organising macabre rituals, offering magical cures and threatening people, under peril of incurring divine or supernatural displeasure, are covered by this law.
  • It exempts established religious practices and the propagation of spiritual learning and arts, besides astrology and vaastu.

Superstition in the context of Indian Society:

Superstition is a kind of blind belief in supernatural powers which don’t have any scientific explanations behind that. Superstitions in India are a serious problem.

  • Superstitions in India are not a fresh introduction. It has been prevalent since decades. For example:
  • In different parts of the country people still believe that the cawing of a crow on the roof of a house is the sign of the arrival of guests.

What are the causes behind these superstitions?

  1. Illiteracy proves to be prime reason of superstition in India.
  • The illiterate people generally fall in the grip of superstitions. They can’t judge an incident from the scientific point of view.
  • In India, the literacy rate is just 70.44% (as per recent data), which is quite low in comparison to other developed countries.
  1. Again in our country, a lot of “godman” are found who make people superstitious in the name of religion.
  • By doing so they not only make people fool but also scatter the seed of superstitions in India for their own benefits.

What are the harmful consequences of these superstitions?

  1. In the modern era, widows in India still couldn’t get shelter and received harsh treatment. They are not allowed to attend auspicious functions.
  2. The phenomenon of “witch hunting”, which has claimed many innocent lives.
  3. These superstitions also lead to caste bias and discrimination, which leads to violation of Right to equality, freedom, religion and against exploitation.

What are the constitutional measures against superstitions?

  • The Section 295A of the Indian Penal Code criminalises “deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs”.
  • The Article 51 A (h) of the Constitution of India, lists “to develop the scientific temper, humanism and the spirit of inquiry and reform” as a fundamental duty for every Indian citizen.
  • The article 25 guarantees freedom of conscience and free profession, practice and propagation of religion.
  • The Article 21 guarantees protection of life and personal liberty. No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to procedure established by law.

What are the other measures to be taken?

  1. The literacy rate needs to be improved as much as possible to remove superstitions in India.
  2. Government or non-government organization can take initiatives to educate people and teach them to think scientifically.
  3. Parents play an important part in removing all the fears and beliefs in superstitions through personal guidance and real life examples.
  4. The teaching community has to shoulder more responsibility, to modernise India so that the desirable change may occur through education.
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