Citizens' Issues
Narendra Dabholkar, anti-superstition activist, shot dead in Pune

Two unknown assailants shot dead Narendra Dabholkar, the founder-president of Andhashraddha Nirmulan Samiti

Two unknown assailants shot Pune-based Narendra Dabholkar, who was in the forefront of a campaign to persuade Maharashtra government to pass an anti-superstition and black magic bill, on Tuesday morning.


Dabholkar spearheaded the 'Andhashraddha Nirmulan Samiti' (Anti-Superstition movement) to change social mindsets and inculcate scientific temper. He was found in a pool of blood at Omkareshwar bridge in Pune. He succumbed to bullet injuries in the Sassoon Hospital.


A staunch fighter for the cause of eradication of inhuman rituals and superstitions, Dabholkar was also in the forefront of the campaign to persuade Maharashtra government to pass an anti-superstition and black magic bill - opposed by certain sections of Warkari sect - in the state legislature.


All parties except Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Shiv Sena had supported the bill. Dahbolkar had said that chief minister Prithviraj Chavan has failed to discuss Anti-Jaadu Tona Bill (anti-back magic bill) and Chavan has betrayed all progressive people in the state. "This could be the only bill which has figured in the list of business for last seven sessions but never came up for discussion. Chavan had announced, in his press conference, before the monsoon session that this bill will be passed in the session," Dabholkar had said.


Gulabrao Pol, Police Commissioner of Pune while confirmed Dabholkar's death, said that police were investigating the motive but no suspects have so far been identified.


Dabholkar was also editor of 'Sadhana', a magazine founded by the late Sane Guruji. Sadhana is devoted to propagation of progressive thought.



Anil Agashe

4 years ago

A very sad day indeed. Maharashtra has great tradition of social reformists. Phule, Ambedkar, Agarkar, Sawarkar, Karve, Ranade and Shahu Maharaj to name a few. They all had opposition to their views. All reformists face opposition. Dabholkar faced it all his life but stood firm on his convictions.
He was a family friend for us and our entire family supported him and his work. We felicitated him by conferring a award that we give every year from a Trust that we have founded in memory of our Grand parents a few years back.
A great loss to the society and the reformist movement. We have to carry on with his work in our own way as a mark of respect for the man!

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Inspire Confidence!
Through this column, I would like to ask Dr Hegde a pertinent question and I do hope that he will reply to this query. A couple of weeks back, the grand-daughter of my neighbour had to visit an ophthalmologist for a routine refractory check-up. The girl has myopia and she has been wearing glasses since she was in class I. The doctor may have been in a foul mood on that day—we do not know. She scared the little girl by recounting incidents of people who have had various eye problems—which was not necessary. It took a lot of time for the girl to understand that what the doctor was saying was general and not specific to her case. 
Other doctors in the past had stated that there was no problem with her eye, except myopia. Is it ethical for a doctor to talk in such a negative fashion to a child of 13-14 years when her parent is accompanying her? Wouldn’t it have been better if the doctor had used positive words to inspire confidence and give a gentle caution: “You have to take care of eyes , so please eat healthy foods rich in Vitamin A” or something like that. Don’t you think doctors have to be more careful when they communicate a message to impressionable minds? 
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Prof BM Hegde replies:
I am sorry for what happened to your child. Unfortunately, we doctors have become mercenaries and, consequently, merciless. The whole edifice of modern medicine or, for that matter, any other system of healing, can (should) only be built on patient confidence in her/his doctor which is what makes medicines and surgery work. It is not just what we do. This has been now proven using highly scientific methods. That is called the placebo effect or expectation effect, as the physicists call it.
The profession has lost its sense of social responsibility. Doctors are trained to maintain the health of the public. That is exactly what we do not do. Instead of becoming placebo doctors, most of us have become ‘nocebo’ doctors, scaring our patients. What happened to your child is not only unethical but dangerous as the young mind could have developed a permanent phobia. Thank God, you found a sensible second opinion. Fear could kill!
The root of the problem is in our present educational system. Education should strive to make healthy minds and not just only wealthy careers. John Adams defined good education as a process which trains human beings to act “justly, skilfully, and magnanimously” under all circumstances of war and peace. Today’s education runs only after skill and money.
Now, here is the positive side of myopia for your grandchild’s information. All myopes are highly intelligent. One example would suffice. Late Chakravarthi Rajagopalachari was a severe myope as a child. He could not see the blackboard in the class. His teacher, an Englishman, detected this in this extraordinarily intelligent child and asked his father to buy him correcting glasses. The father, whose pay was Rs13 per month, could not afford it. The teacher bought him the glasses and then there was no looking back. The brightest star on the Indian political ferment was late CR, as he was affectionately called.
Myopia gets corrected as the child grows old. She would need no glasses at all in old age for reading. There are some eye exercises for myopes to make it easier to read. She can forget her eyes as they are healthy. Myopia is NOT a disease. In our health-scare system, it becomes one.
My apologies for my colleague’s behaviour. Hope she is nice at other times. It might have been one of her bad days.
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