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Saturday, December 04, 2021

Ten ways of being foolish

90 per cent of Indians have an unscientific temper. The facts bear it out

Written by Markandey Katju |
April 23, 2012 3:06:11 am

90 per cent of Indians have an unscientific temper. The facts bear it out

After my article ‘The 90%’ was published in The Indian Express on April 4,I got a call from the Delhi correspondent of The Wall Street Journal asking me on what basis I had mentioned the figure 90 per cent when I said that 90 per cent Indians are fools. I replied that it was not a mathematical figure,what I meant was that an overwhelming number of Indians were fools. Therefore the figure might be 85 per cent,on the other hand it could be 95 per cent. Consider the following facts:

One,Tamilians are some of the finest and most intelligent among Indians. They have done the country proud in various fields — scientific research,mathematics,IT,medicine etc. In the US and Europe,the science and mathematics departments of many universities and institutes are full of Tamilian professors.

Yet Tamilians are some of the most superstitious people in India. This may sound like a paradox,but it is true,and this just shows that scientific and unscientific ideas can co-exist in the same head. When I went to Chennai to take oath as Chief Justice of Madras High Court in November 2004,I was told not to take oath in Rahukalam time. I asked what this Rahukalam was,and was told it was the inauspicious time according to astrology. Now,Rahukalam is all nonsense (as is all astrology),but over 90 per cent of Tamilians believe in it. To give an example,a very senior south Indian lawyer practising in the Supreme Court told me that his Tamilian clients tell him not to begin reading their briefs during Rahukalam time.

Two,most ministers and even many chief justices of high courts take oath at the “auspicious” time,as advised by their astrologer.

Three,judges of the Supreme Court are allotted houses in the Supreme Court Judges pool. One of such houses was 7,Tughlak Lane. Unfortunately some mishaps happened to some judges who occupied this house,and thereafter no judge would accept it,thinking it was inauspicious. Ultimately,the then Chief Justice of India wrote to the concerned authority to remove that house from the judges pool,which was done,and another house allotted to the pool.

Four,some years back it was announced in the media (which plays a prominent role in spreading superstitions) that Lord Ganesh was drinking milk. There was a rush of huge crowds in many cities in India to offer milk to idols of Lord Ganesh. Similarly,some years back a miracle chapati was announced. Many such “miracles” keep happening from time to time,and most people believe them.

Five,this is a “baba-bound” society. Consider the number of “godmen”,their huge following and huge properties they amass. The latest one claims to have a third eye,like Lord Shiva. It was published in a leading English newspaper (April 18) that he had told people in Raipur not to keep shivalingams at home for their welfare but to put them in temples. As a result,temples in Raipur were flooded with Shivalingams. He had also advised eating kheer,samosas,golgappas etc for various problems. And much of all this was lapped up by his followers,who have donated huge amounts to him.

Six,when I was a judge in the Allahabad High Court,it was announced that someone in Tamil Nadu had discovered a method of converting water into petrol. Some of my colleagues said that now we will get cheap petrol. I told them this was a fraud,because in science there is a principle that everything moves from a higher energy level to a lower energy level. Petrol is at a higher energy level,whereas water is at a lower energy level. Water (H2O) is really burnt hydrogen,it is like ash. You can convert wood into ash by burning it,but how can you convert ash into wood? And later it was found to be a fraud.

Seven,before finalising a marriage most parents consult astrologers,and it is only if the “kundali” matches that the proposal is finalised. The poor “mangalik” girl is often rejected for no fault of hers.

Eight,every day,a large number of TV channels show astrology and all kinds of superstition. The Broadcast Editors Association announced that they will stop all this shortly,but how can they? The members of these bodies are only employees,not owners of the channels. Their pay packages (sometimes going up to two or three crores per year) are often linked with the TRP rating. Their owners have given one simple instruction to them — keep the TRP rating high.The owners only want profits,profits depend on advertisement revenues,which in turn depends on viewership.

Unfortunately,the intellectual level of the middle classes (who are the main viewers) in India is very low. All they wish to see is the lives of filmstars,fashion parades (often with half-naked women),cricket (which is opium for the masses) and of course,astrology. And so this is dished out day after day to get high TRP ratings.

Nine,most Hindus are communal,and most Muslims are also communal. As I have repeatedly pointed out,they were not communal before 1857. Before 1857,Hindus used to celebrate Eid,and Muslims used to celebrate Holi and Diwali. Muslim rulers,like the nawab of Avadh,Tipu Sultan etc used to organise Ramlila,give grants to Hindu temples,etc. It was after suppressing the Mutiny that the British decided that the only way to control India was by divide and rule. Hence a deliberate policy was laid down by the British to generate hatred between Hindus and Muslims. All communal riots started after 1857. The English collector would secretly call the local panditji,give him money,and ask him to start speaking against Muslims,and he would also call the local Maulvi secretly and give him money to speak against Hindus. This poison was systematically spread year after year,decade after decade,until it culminated in the Partition of 1947 (see ‘History in the Service of Imperialism’,and my articles ‘What is India’ and other articles on and the articles and the video on the website Even now,there are powerful vested interests promoting communal hatred. The truth is that 99 per cent people of all communities are good,but it will take a lot of time to remove the communal virus from our body politic. Today the situation is that whenever any bomb blasts take place,immediately Muslim individuals or groups are blamed for it.

Ten,social evils like honour killings,dowry deaths,female foeticide are still widely prevalent in India.

I have said all this not to demoralise Indians,but to point out to them the correct path to prosperity. It is only scientific thinking that can save us from the disaster to which we are headed.

India has a strong scientific heritage (see my article ‘Sanskrit as a language of science’ on It is only when we go back to the path shown by our great scientific ancestors,Aryabhatta,Brahmagupta,Sushrut,Charak,Ramanujan and Raman and spread scientific thinking widely that we can recover our former glory.

The writer,a former judge of the Supreme Court,is chairman of the Press Council

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