Today at Observer Research Foundation, Mumbai where I am a Research Fellow, I found myself engaged in a discussion on inter-faith dialogue and religion. Mr. Sudheendra Kulkarni is actively involved with and supporting the visit of Islamic scholar Mr. Tahir ul Quadri in January 2014 and some of my colleagues at ORF will be actively involved in the preparations.

I found myself sharing the following views on religion:

  1. I am increasingly switched off from religion, find it boring and adding little or no value to my life. I find it suffocating and the harbouring ground for all kind of atrocities on individual liberty and large organised human rights violations by a few on the many.
  2. Mainstream religion will see rapid decline in the coming few years.
  3. Multiple belief systems will emerge in the coming years, which will be a rich mix of principles, values and ideas from  different religions and also borrow heavily from philosophy, spirituality and material sciences.
  4. The hegemony of the 4-5 organised mainstream religions will diminish and should necessarily go in the larger interest of humanity. In a sense these are like the government monopolies we suffered in the pre-liberalization era. There was no choice and you were forced to live with the bad service of the entrenched monopolies.
  5. As somebody who takes such keen interest – and has devoted life to being in action on the same – in environmental issues and sustainability and its direct linkages with human well being I keep getting absolutely shocked and surprised about the difficulty of creating any large scale interest of people in the same. Why should people not be taking interest in issues pertaining to water, air, waste, housing, sanitation, ecological systems – issues which affect them daily – and be putting so much time in rituals and readings, which are not yielding anything much?
  6. If ability to tide over and manage insecurity, lack of confidence, inability to manage anger, fear and hatred is what you are looking for then clearly you need not depend on mainstream religions ¬†for solutions. The other belief systems I do not think have a counter -solution for the ability of the Tirupati Balaji’s and the Vaishneodevi’s of the world being able to grant obscene amounts of wealth or a Greencard etc.

So much for now.