Q. Why is Terminal 5 like a mortuary? A. You can’t take your baggage with you. At much the same time as Terminal 5 was opening at Heathrow an airport of comparable size was opening in the fast growing hub of technology and scientific achievement in Hyderabad, India: the Rajiv Gandhi Airport.
They reported no problems with baggage handling and everything appears to have gone smoothly.
A meeting in Birmingham called by the Asian Rationalist Society (Britain) described something else going on in India. Barely 150 km from Hyderbad is a village outside of which there is a Dalit (formerly known as untouchable) community. One of India’s notorious godmen had announced that before the children in the community could receive an education they would need to make a sacrifice. Not a sheep or goat, but one of their children. It would have to be a human sacrifice he insisted. Fear spread through the community and children were kept from going to school. Here the Rationalists stepped in. They spend time in communities demonstrating the cheap conjuring tricks and sleight of hand which the holy men use to trick people into believing they have supernatural powers. They managed to persuade some of the young people and some elders in going with them to the temple to confront this godman. Having got wind that he was to have visitors he ran off and so there was great disappointment. However the community now feel enlightened and empowered to act against these villains.
The Rationalists are now finding that right wing groups are supporting the holy men, and the BJP Hindu fundamentalists who share power in government are influential in bringing forward laws to stop the Rationalists exposing the religious fraud taking place, exploiting peoples’ vulnerability and ignorance. While this has been taking place in the Gujrat for some time, (my good friend Professor BD Desai has worked in Surat since his retirement) thugs are beating up Rationalists in the Punjab and measures are being taken inside government to have Rationalist book banned.