The task before the young Asian Humanists
By Hiranya Raj Uprety, spring 2004

eligious wars and caste-based hierarchism are at the peak in Asian nations. The religious conflicts emerge at any time so frequently in this part of the world that it is never predictable. The morally degraded politicians for their stake create the conflict and I am doubly sure they are reaping sumptuously from it.

The Hindu sections of the people both in India and Nepal have a rigid hierarchy based on caste system.

The Brahmins are at the top of the strata followed by Chhetris and then Vaisas and then Sudras. The Sudras are considered to be untouchables. In the earlier years, the Sudras had to walk with bells hung at the neck. Whenever a Brahmin hears a bell of Sudra, he immediately used to pass orders and the Sudra had to follow other way which is lower in altitude/ gradient then the path taken by that Brahmin. The Sudras were also not allowed to walk on the road above the house of a Brahmin.

Even today, it is frequently heard about the Sudras being beaten by the higher castes for touching tube wells. In remote areas even today the Sudras have to wash the plates and cups after eating in the public hotels. When a higher caste group beats a Sudra then he will not get justice anywhere because the government portfolios holder including the police department is occupied by higher castes.

Blinded by the religious beliefs and feelings, the people of this region have a strong faith in god, ghost and witchcrafts. Almost everyday in one place or the other, women are being harassed either by beating or by making them to eat human excreta for possessing witchcraft power. Women who are acquiesced of witchcraft are usually shabby type looking because of poverty and illiteracy.

Religion on the other hand has further worked as a handy tool for suppressing the already suppressed female in the patriarchal society. The suppression is in the form of excessive priority to son over the daughter. A son is considered a security, survival, a rescue mission leader, hereditary keeper and a future builder.

It is believed that after the death of parents the son will rescue the parents' soul through religious rites and rituals even if the soul has landed in the hell. The word "Putra" meaning 'son' is composed of two words; Pu meaning 'ocean' and Tra meaning 'cross'. A son (it is believed) will make the soul of parents cross the ocean of difficulties in hell after their death through religious rites. Dowry system is prevalent in the societies of India and Nepal.

In this system, the parents of the bride will have to pay a huge sum of money and materials to the bridegroom. There are many events where the wife is either beaten too badly or even sometimes killed when she fails to bring property from her parents' home.

The refugees in Asia are mainly victims of religious dogmatism. One of the burning examples is the case of Bhutanese Refugees. Bhutan is also called a Buddhists kingdom. The southern part of this country is inhabited by non-Buddhists. These Non-Buddhists were forced to follow the culture of Buddhism including the dress code. When the people opposed the senseless policy of the government, they were forced to leave their country. These people are now refugees and are on asylum in Nepal.

The two government of Nepal and Bhutan, a Buddhist and a Hindu Kingdom (Nepal has declared itself a Hindu Kingdom in the constitution despite the multiethnic and multilingual kingdom) started dividing the refugees and have been divided into four categories; but majorly into Bhutanese and Non-Bhutanese.

The government of India has allowed formation of religious military groups especially of Hindu sects. The example is Shiv-Sena lead by a politician "Bal Thakrey". This Shiv-Sena is a religious military group whose primary target is to fight and suppress other religions or opposing beliefs. The Babri-Masjid episode in India that took the life of thousands is still fresh in our memories; this was a politically motivated religious conflict between Hindus and Muslims. The Indo-Pak War is a religious war between Hindus and Muslims. Two of the devastating wars fought at the border of India and Pakistan were both religiously motivated. The civil war in Sri-lanka is a racial war between the Tamils and Sinhalese. This war has catastrophically marred any meaningful development in the area. The bloody war has taken the life of so many people, created instability and peace looks to be lost forever.

Conclusively, religion has proved to be the opium of the oppressed. Man kills man in the name of god. The notion of god (I have come to realize) is a fictive creation of wealthy people in order to dominate the poor. What the Asian nations need now is a larger section of people who would believe in Humanism that stands for justice, peace, prosperity and harmony that together will bring meaningful progress in the life of all. This is the task before an average young Asian Humanist. We are sure it will not be easy but we shall try our best to rid Asia of unproductive beliefs and align with those who share the Beneficial Humanistic principles.