I do not know what the stars foretell about Chief Minister Siddharamaiah’s political future in 2018 Assembly elections. But I do know what the people of reason, the rationalists, foretell about his contributions to gullible people to live in dignity. They foretell a place in Karnataka’s history for Siddharamaiah as a redeemer of superstitious people steeped in darkness.
I reckon The Karnataka Prevention and Eradication of Inhuman Evil Practices and Black Magic Bill 2017, Anti-Superstition Bill for short, passed by the State Legislative Assembly on 15.11.2017 as Siddharamaiah’s greatest contribution to Karnataka.
For three long years, the Bill was gathering dust because of political opposition and filibustering. Now it has to be passed in the Legislative Council which, I presume, is a mere formality.
In Political Science, we are taught that the people do not know what they want and it is the duty of the government to give them what they need to lead a good and decent life. I guess, at last, Siddharamaiah has given our people a law that will enable them to free themselves from their present degradation.
As an old student of law, I was taught that where practice ends superstition begins; where superstition ends custom begins and where custom ends, law begins. Sadly, in our country, like in many countries in the world across all religions and races, superstition persists camouflaged as custom. And hence, despicable evil. In practice, the custom remains with all the attributes of superstition. It is curious that we are asked to respect customs like we are asked to respect faith and beliefs!
Therefore, it is surprising the Bill makes a distinction between customs and superstitions even where the customary practice is injurious to its practitioners. For example, in the case of ‘Mudra Dharana’ by Madhwa Brahmins where a heated rod is used to brand the body part of a person. Now this present Bill has excluded this practice from its ambit saying it is a custom! ‘Made Snana’ too is a degrading custom but is not banned under the Bill. However, there is a compromise of a caveat. What the Bill bans is facilitating any person to do ‘Made Snana,’ (rolling over leaves with leftover food by others in public or in religious places, which means temples). Well, it is like punishing a tout and let go a sex worker!
Sometimes I keep wondering if the British had not brought in the law against ‘Sati’, would it have been possible to end the evil of Sati in today’s atmosphere? An innocent widow was made to immolate herself as ‘Sati’ on her husband’s pyre like what Rani Padmavati had done in her time — 13th century. There were many evil practices in the Indian society that affected mainly women and children and this continues with impunity even in this modern age of science and reason.
Unfortunately, our leaders of free-India did not give us freedom from these harmful, degrading superstitious practices. The present Anti-Superstition Bill, therefore, is a great tribute to Siddharamaiah. I salute him for taking this bold step despite opposition from the puritans, conservatives, fundamentalists and religious fanatics. I have a suggestion to Siddharamaiah. Like the KPME Bill that regulates private hospitals in matters of service and fees, he must bring an amendment Bill to the existing laws regarding our temples because it is the birth place of superstition.
When God’s works are not perfect and comfortable for man, how can man’s work, the man-made law, could be perfect? There are bound to be inadequacies. There are bound to be lacunae. There are bound to be gaps between the letter and spirit of the law. Everybody, these days, is calling our Constitution as a “Holy, sacred book,” sacrosanct. Of course, only when it suits them. However, it is a paradox that while the religious Holy books of ancient times are not allowed to be edited or amended to suit the changing times and needs of the people, our Constitution has been changed over 122 times since its adoption in the year 1950.
Therefore, no matter there may be many deficiencies in the present Anti-Superstition Bill, arising out of political or religious expediencies but as time passes, as people get educated, we can always amend the law to bridge the gaps. And I am sure there will come another Siddharamaiah to do the job.
Understandably, Numerology, Astrology and Vaastu have been spared from the ban in this Bill. As a subject of study and practice, these could be allowed to stay because these are disciplines that ignite your mind and set you on a course of planetary and astronomical study with Mathematics, an exact Science, as base. Only charlatans must be ousted and punished if there are complaints of extortion or of causing physical harm.
And before I forget. Chief Minister Siddharamaiah and his Health Minister K.R. Ramesh Kumar must be admired for their sheer grit and determination in bringing the Karnataka Private Medical Establishments (Amendment) Bill in the present session despite vehement opposition by the doctors and private hospitals. The prohibitively exorbitant cost of treatment in the private hospitals (including the corporate ones) is the main cause. But, on the flip side, the poor service and rampant corruption in the Government hospitals too are challenges for the Government in the area of medical health care to the poor and middle class people.
Except for the draconian provision in the Act, like sending the guilty doctors to jail, the law seems to be on the desired lines for the advantage of those who are not rich.
The general conduct of the 5-star or other star hospitals towards the patients have never been patient-friendly nor friendly to those who pay for the treatment. It is sheer extortion once the patient becomes captive.
My friend’s wife went to a star hospital for some ear ailment. “You have to go for hearing aid. You are past 60. Age, you know.” An elitist-socialite lady, she was shocked and depressed. Rushed to Mumbai, to another star hospital to meet a super-star super-specialist. He gave her 10 tablets for five days (1-0-1) and, lo and behold, she was her old self and there came another diamond necklace!
As for refusing to hand over the dead body, it is simply cruel. After slapping a huge bill, the hospital says cash and carry! Not a cured patient but a dead one. These cases could be exceptions, but they are real and disturbing.
Doctors cannot make an excuse of paying hefty donation and high fees for admission to medical colleges and to do their MD or higher specialisation or to meet their target of revenue generation for the star hospital and ruin the patient financially. Charge what is right and just. No patient will grudge.
Be that as it may, all things considered, Siddharamaiah should be hailed as a good law-maker, if not an administrator, no matter he may benefit collaterally in the 2018 Assembly elections.
Tailpiece: According to Paracelsus, the Swiss Physician-Astrologer, man becomes ill only when the harmonious relationship between himself and the constellation of stars at his birth somehow breaks down.
Therefore, Paracelsus would not prescribe medicine to any patient until he had seen his kundali, his astrological birth chart. Paracelsus would cure patients who could not be cured by other physicians.
I have one more suggestion to make for Siddharamaiah. Make it mandatory for all hospitals to appoint an astrologer to advice on patient’s Kundali before treatment!
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