Rationalism and electoral politics: Presented at the meeting of Yukthivadi Sangham at Thathamangalam, Kerala on 1st May , 2016: In this presentation, Dr.Viswanathan addresses certain core issues concerning rationalist activism raised by certain people in the context of upcoming assembly elections in Kerala. The assertion that such activism has crucial political significance was challanged by critics. It was alleged that rationalists do not “understand how caste system works”, and that their alleged (in fact nonexistant) indifference to electoral politics is counter productive. “Identity politics” of various groups in society with an aim to uphold each group’s “interests” was advocated by one critic, condemning rationalists.
Dr. Viswanathan argues that social reform is a necessary precursor to any political reform, and that a secular and democratic civic culture alone can guarentee the rights enshrined in our constitution for the marginalized people. Activism aimed at “educating the electorate” has tramendous political importance . Such activism, which hopes to integrate scientific temper with societal commonsense, has political implications not merely for Legislature, but for judiciary and executive as well, he argues. Copies of an earlier article by the speaker, titled “Enlightenment humanism and democracy ” ( ജ്ഞാനോദയ മാനവികതയും ജനാധിപത്യവും ) was distributed at the venue. This article is accessible