Richard Dawkings to India
#13
Ajita

I mentioned that my response about the poor and funds for them were not a direct response to your post but the general perception that gets highlighted in the media whenever, when one persons extravagant behavior might be another rightful morally legitimate exercise.

On the emotional argument, someone wiling to start a organization has to be emotionally motivated and willing, i never said it being a weakness, and i said it is a fair argument in some regards but to me not in the context i mentioned, i.e. If you spend money that is not for the 400 million poor of the country, then you are wrong and wasting it.
That was what i was trying to say, sorry i didn't put it through correctly right away, but imo i got the feeling you got tensed up too much for no great reason here really.

@egotwist
Am not a University student, i was suggesting that as one plausible possibility of where if RD came to India could speak.

Since
you can't bring him to a remote village with weired superstitious customs and expect him to change their minds. He has his knowledge base and his audience, like any Indian rationalist activist.
I never argued bringing him this month, just said spending money on bringing him if there is a demand for him here, is justified, even if that 5000$ doesn't go to poor, just my thoughts.
|God is Dead|
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#14
@Varun,

I know Ajita well, and even if I didn't, his reply doesn't show any hint of emotionalism. They are perfectly rational, logical unemotional arguments.

Cheers.
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#15
(17-May-2010, 06:55 PM)Ajita Kamal Wrote: Varun and others,

There are several logistic and monetary issues that would have to be addressed before undertaking something like this. But inviting Dawkins to India is definitely in the works. It's just a question of how soon. It could be as soon as a year from now, or as late as 2 or 3 years from now.

Basically what I am saying is that when we finally bring RD to India, we must make use of the media attention to build a large organization and put us on the map. If, as you say, 1% of India are atheists, we must make sure that at least half of those hear about us when RD arrives. I submit that we are not ready for this scale an operation right now. But we will, soon.

Until then, let's keep working towards it. We already have representation on the Dawkins website. Our Video and animation coordinator, Bala Bhaskar, has been communicating with them for a while. Nirmukta is considered a partner. They have published many of our articles. For example, see this article of mine that they reproduced. Bala has also been working with them on artistic projects. When the time comes, we hope to be ready. But in the meantime, there is a lot of activism we can do on our own.

@Varun great to see your enthusiasm and we all agree that bringing Dawkins to India in the future is a good thing . I think Ajita has put it down as practically as any of us would.
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#16
The first thing I read at the Nirmukta FB group was that it would be registered as a NGO and the process would be complete by the end of this year.
I am aware of how difficult it is to run volunteer organisations due to paucity of funds among other things as I have supported in my small way many NGOs.
I knew it would take a couple of years from now for Nirmukta to invite some one like Dawkins.

Good suggestion by "egotwist" that Dawkins could be invited by an university but the reality is that government funded universities besides offering degrees in "astrology" are always running short of funds, and private universities are in their early stages here and right now only interested in making money.

A Richard Dawkins' visit means a media blitzkrieg. We really need that large scale focus on atheism, evolutionary biology, etc. It will result in tens of thousands of closet free-thinkers and agnostics joining Nirmukta and also inspiring millions of kids to think beyond what their parents teach them about religion.
I've come across kids who say they were inspired to become scientists because of ex-President of India, Dr. Abdul Kalam.

The media and the educated in India are currently glad about the expose of so-called godmen, gurus, babas as they think these are fake and defaming their religion. But, try challenging the core of Hinduism/Hindutva and the door is shut.
I'm really glad to see Prof. Nayak promoting rationalism on television as the audio-visual medium reach is enormous and the best part is that the same channels who peddle astrology and other woos everyday are inviting and featuring him.

One of the reason Dawkins doesn't get into a debate with theists is that he is not deeply informed about their religious doctrines. (On a Bill Maher show he said Muslims kill because their religion tells them to.) Why should he be? I myself never got beyond a few pages of either the Bible, Quran or the Bhagvad Gita, though I'm a voracious reader. I never can read bad, outdated books.

Dawkins's books were important to atheists like me who haven't academically studied science to deal with for example, people with the "watch argument". I was not taught about evolution at school.

Sorry about the long post. The gist of what I'm trying to say is we need to inspire children in India towards science - invention and research. The education system being what it is, there is need for external stimulus for free thinking. I have siblings and cousins who are doctors and engineers. Not one of them is an atheist.
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#17
Richard Dawkins has a lot of appeal in the West because of the enlightened audiences there, and more importantly because people are far more open to considering new ideas. This is not so in India. If he does come to India, I suspect that the audience will be more or less elitist, and that would simply not do enough.

I don't think he is anymore in the business of showing the wonders of science to the public as well. He used to do this when he was Charles Simonyi Professor for the public understanding of science at Oxford (see, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1KR8SigWQuY, and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ioft74nNKpk; they are pretty impressive). However he is retired from that position now. He seems to only be involved in atheist activism in the UK and US. Currently, he and Hitchens are attempting a program to arrest the Pope when he visits the UK!

I think that Nirmukta should scale up its online activism at the very least and start putting up videos on the channel of documentaries taken by members on science, religion, debunking superstition, etc. More emphasis on what science can do should be the thrust I think. I am in my own small way, planning a few documentaries on the lines of science in the coming months. Hope it works out well!
Aditya Manthramurthy
Web Administrator & Associate Editor
Nirmukta.com
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#18
The "creationism versus evolution" debate has to start in India with a "big bang".
Given the vast number of children with no access to schooling and the sheer number of unlettered people in India, television is the best medium to reach maximum people.
@donatello. An elitist target audience is not a bad thing because they're the ones who fund the new-ages gurus and right-wing political parties.

It will be difficult to get Dawkins to India due to impediments by politicians. There are only 2 parties that are able to form viable governments. The President of the Congress party is likely to oppose a person who is calling for the arrest of the Pope. The BJP which caters to a right-wing religious constituency will also oppose.
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#19
(15-Jun-2010, 10:10 AM)donatello Wrote: I am in my own small way, planning a few documentaries on the lines of science in the coming months. Hope it works out well!

Glad to know that. I'm looking forward to them, and will be more than willing to use Nirmukta to sharing your documentaries around! Cheers.

Sid
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