Religion vs. Atheism

Economic disruption and violence in Kerala over Sabarimala issue

Karl Marx wrote in ‘Critique of Hegel's Philosophy of Right’ that “Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the masses.” Indeed, for the Marxists, religion is mere superstition, to be scoffed at and perceived as ‘weak’. Why then, are they so keen on promoting the cause of temple entry of women? In doing so, are they not contradicting themselves?

Given their aversion to any form of religion, how is it that the promotion of temple entry assumes priority for the atheist party? Since when has campaigning for the rights of devotees become an agenda of the Communist Party (Marxist)?

It is disheartening to note how endless protests over the Sabarimala issue are disrupting life in Kerala, and bringing its business activities, economic stability and social life to a halt. Bitterness and communal divide have become the order of the day in the ‘hartal’ capital of the world, as mud-slinging and backbiting take center-stage. Here again, the motives of the party become suspect, as neutral observers wonder why the government has to intervene in a matter of faith, and not allow the devotees to sort the issue out by themselves? The Devaswom Boards, under the direct control of the government are more than capable of handling this sensitive issue and appeasing the faithful. Why then must the government wield swords with the believers? Why must they take sides in a battle which is not really theirs? What explains the CPMs newfound interest in matters of faith?

The answer lies in the fact that the Kerala Model of communism has undergone a paradigm shift in the recent past and religion and faith have become part and parcel of daily life. So much so that neglecting it becomes a surefire recipe for disaster. Then again, the State’s social demographics have also shifted, with the youth of today indifferent to the classical Marxian ideology. They prefer their tags of engineers, doctors, entrepreneurs, IT professionals or even graduates, with the few public sector units and the increasingly weakening trade unions failing to fuel their curiosity. Added to this is the fact that NGOs (Non-Gazetted Officers) and GOs (Gazetted officers) are becoming few and far between, with fewer opportunities to mobilze them as labour union force.

The new voter is part of the global market and ideologies like Marxism or socialism are not their cup of tea. These aspirational and dynamic groups want economic growth and smart living standards comparable to any developed nation and whoever can deliver this dream will find favour and occupy the coveted seat of power. Free market and embracing new technologies, along with spiritual revivalism, is the name of the game. That being the case, a culture of strikes and hartals may prove to be futile in the long-term.

The party knows that the ‘ideal’ strategy in this scenario is to take over the driving seat of the Devaswoms, who in turn can control the mind and thoughts of an average voter. Try as hard as they might to disown religion, they know that religion is the only panacea that can step in when ideologies lose their sheen and teeter on the verge of collapse. These, along with the blessings of Lord Ayappa, would strengthen the base and party foundation, they are well aware.

Having said this, it is impossible to ignore what a majority of the Kerala public believe. While rumors are best left to die, it becomes increasingly difficult to say nay to what a large section of Hindu community as well as members of other religious communities believe, that the over enthusiasm surrounding the Sabarimala issue has much more to do with covering up the flaws in the rehabilitation work post the recent floods that ravaged the state.

Ideally, the government should be busy helping the state get back to normal life post the floods. Relief and rehabilitation should be at the top of their agenda, as does disaster preparedness, rescue operations and resource and infrastructure mobilization. Questions such as developing protocol/s/procedures and practices to be followed with regard to opening of Dams and Water Reservoirs during the time of rains should be at the heart of everything that the government does. Instead, it chooses to cover up its own inadequacies by meddling in religion and playing up other issues to divert public attention.

Indeed, the government should be alert to the growing discontent against the communist party for their attempts to influence religion and faith. The well-informed Kerala society is only too aware of similar painful precedents in the world, where, during the communist regime, the lean church was controlled and managed by communist parties in the former communist bloc nations. There is rising fear among the religious groups as they become increasingly aware of Marxist communists, who are well versed in mobilization and social engineering techniques, slowly but surely infiltrating their sacred space.

Faith and its practices are best left to the followers and devotees. How someone prays, never was, and never should be, their concern. Instead, constructive collaboration and concerted efforts for the progress of the state should be.


More by :  Dr. P Koshy

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