Chatri Yagna to Bag Yaga!
Posted: Saturday, July 02nd, 2011 | Posted by: Narendra Nayak | Views: 16911
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After giving 81 umbrellas to the students of the Gandhi Nagar higher Primary school to 'induce the rain gods' to give rain which succeeded as it has been raining cats and dogs in Mangalore, we decided to conduct one more of such by giving bags to those of the students who did not have them. Not just any ordinary bags but those with slogans on them to make them think. So, there were about 68 students needing them and were handed over those bags on Saturday, 2nd July at a small function with a small treat thrown in!

However, we just could not resist bringing a bit of scientific temper into the proceedings! We asked the children whether giving them umbrellas had started the rains! One boy said it rained only on the next day. Then I asked him whether the rain was due to them being given umbrellas and there was a chorus of noís! Then came a bed of nails with really sharp ones on a plank. It was shown around and the students felt it. All agreed that the nails were really sharp. Then came the question who is going to stand on it? There were no volunteers so, we asked the teachers who were the most mischievous boy and girl in the school. They were named, summoned and 'punished' by asking them stand on the bed of nails! They however were smiling! When we asked them why they said it is not paining at all! The children were surprised and one of them explained why the nails were not piercing the skin. He said because of the large number of nails which were at the same level, the weight of person standing gets equally distributed on a number of points! So, a point was made about rational thinking and its need.

We also explained the slogans screen printed on the bags- they were two- Hands that help are better than lips that pray. When we asked them the meaning they said they do not know! Then it was explained to them how it is so. We gave them the example of a person who has slipped and fallen- no amount of prayers can help him to stand and only a hand given to help. Then we asked them whether they understood the second slogan which said develop rational thinking for the progress of the nation. The answer was again no. So, it was explained to them how scientific temper helps the country to progress by proper utilization of resources. It was also explained to them as to why all of them were not given bags and/or umbrellas. The teachers had taken care to inspect their bags to see which of them had none and the same was applicable to the umbrellas too. But, we told them that we love them all equally and that the note books given by us at the beginning of the year and the treat following was for all because all of them needed these things.

The funds for these activities have come from a number of individual rationalists who wanted to help children without any strings attached. We do not ask them to sing praises of baba or pray to our god or sing paeans to our deity. We donít force them to say any slogans but we request them only one thing - Think before you believe. We have not put the names of any of the organizations or the donors because we want to make the children self sufficient and help them to the extent possible and not look for publicity for ourselves...

Narendra Nayak
President, Federation of Indian rationalist Associations

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