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Chennai Freethinkers’ 20th Meet

(Editor: Report on this monthly meet was written by two enthusiastic members who attended for the first time.)

Report by Poonguntan Cibi

The Facebook group- ‘Indian atheists- Debate Corner’ was the first rational thinkers’ and science lovers’ group I got myself into and wished so badly if such a group could exist in real life or if I could form such a group in real life. Putting this query of mine forward (Since I’m now, free to question) I was led to Nirmukta and its’ regional groups. ‘Chennai Freethinkers’ made me happy as I’d shifted myself to Chennai lately. At last, almost after a month in the Facebook group- ‘Chennai Freethinkers’, I was notified of the monthly meet. I’m sure you’re able to imagine my excitation as I was notified of a physical meeting! Although it was my vacation, I cancelled all my plans so that I could push myself to stay in Chennai until the 25th of November.

I was on time to the meeting. As time moved on, more members moved in and a highly informative open-discussion session started. With people from different professions I was dumbstruck as they all exchanged ideas and facts on various fields, not particularly with science but also on economics, religion, scripture and stuff. Along with me, there were four new members, three of whom were students and one-a research scientist. I must confess, it was the first time in my life, I was content. “You’ve got many more years of acquiring knowledge, you’re only a bachelors’ degree student now”, I said to myself as I listened to the members attentively. They seemed to know something of most things, every one of them. The session was so informative that I decided never to miss any of the upcoming meetings at least as long as I stay in Chennai.

I belong somewhere in real life. Yeah, I said it; I said it because I can, because I do.

Report by Arun Kumar

The 20th Chennai Freethinkers Meet conducted on 25th, November, 2012 was
my first interactive session after joining CFT. Never before in my life have I interacted with more than one rationalist at a given moment, the prospect of meeting more than a dozen of them was exhilarating. I didn’t want to miss any part of it so arrived early to the meet, around fifteen people turned up for the meet.

The session started of with new members introducing themselves and sharing what made them become a freethinker. After brief introductions we discussed about Indian blasphemy laws and how they are grossly misused to curb freethought and about the recent persecution of the renowned rationalist Sanal Edamaruku by the church. Then Ganesh spoke about the wasteful expenditures which people make in the name of religious rituals and the sad state of pandits and vastu experts earning more than professionals like doctors whose contribution is much more vital to the society. Dilip, who has traveled South East Asia extensively spoke about his experiences on how Indian Hindus staying in Kuala Lumpur fight to take control of Hindu temples for monetary gains, and about the influences which ancient Indian Conquerors have left on South East Asian culture and religion. He also spoke about how beef eating was common among Hindus during vedic period and quoted an example from Rig Veda. Few members were surprised to find out that the “sacred cow” was not inherent to Hinduism. Then a member doing his doctorate in Germany explained how Nazi party gained political mileage from a general lack of lawlessness and economic failure which prevailed during the Weimar Republic,which had eerie similarities with present day Europe. He also spoke about the persecution of Romani people in Europe. The topic then turned towards Indian economy, specifically FDI in Multi-Brand retail and government subsidies. Some members supported them and some were against and both presented their views.

We then explored the reasons behind why many orthodox Hindus send their children to Christian schools despite the fact that Christian institution usually enforce Christianity on the students. One member (ex-hindu) said that he is planning to send his son to a Christian school because when a child is exposed to conflicting ideologies the child will begin to reason.

We had a lot of juice left to discuss many more topics but since we ran out of time we had to half -heartedly end the meet. Members eagerly asked the details of the next meet. After the meet I felt a sense of belonging and acceptance from a group of people whom I have never met in my
life. The reason was simple. We might have different educational, professional and cultural backgrounds but we all had one thing in common. The one thing which we value the most – rational secular humanistic thought.

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