Narendra Dabholkar, fighter against superstition, was killed on August 20th, aged 67. Obit in The Economist:
When the men on motorbikes shot him, four times in head, neck and chest, Narendra Dabholkar was crossing the bridge by the Omkareshwar temple in Pune, in western India. But he had no intention of offering a garland there, saying a prayer, pressing a coin in a priest’s hand or adoring the Shiva linga. He did not believe in such behaviour. In fact, it appalled him; and he had hoped to spread his scepticism all through the state of Maharashtra.
He was a slight and courteous man, with unfashionable spectacles, in simple khadi shirt, slippers and cotton trousers: no one to notice on the street. Yet over three decades, ever since he had decided to switch his work from curing bodies to curing deluded minds, he had become famous. The organisation he had founded in 1989, the Committee for Eradication of Blind Faith (MANS in its Marathi acronym), had 180 branches in the state. In village after village he and his activists would confront the babas, sadhus and other “godmen” who preyed on the poor and simple, challenging their claims and reporting them to the police. He investigated and demystified cases of black magic and possession by ghosts; he campaigned against animal sacrifice, the prodigious waste of drinking water and good food during religious festivities, and the pollution of local rivers during Ganesha’s birthday festival by the immersion of thousands of idols made of plaster of Paris. More: