An Introduction to Indian Rationalist Association
The Indian Rationalist Association (IRA)with head quarters in New Delhi and several branches and thousands of members all over the country is one of the largest and most vibrant freethought organizations in the world. The IRA maintains a strong media presence, hosts regular conferences and seminars and publishes rationalist literature in several Indian languages.Founded 1949 at Madras (Chennai), it celebrated its Golden Jubilee in 1999-2000 with the Second International Rationalist Conference.
Indian Rationalist Association promotes reason, critical thinking and scientific temper in all public fora and has launched a mass scale education movement against superstition in Indian villages. It defends freedom of speech and civil rights and supports self-determination of the individual. In encourages young people to break the shackles of religion and caste and provides legal and social assistance for couples who decide for an inter-religious or inter-caste marriage.President and most prominent media face of the Indian Rationalist Association is Sanal Edamaruku, who spearheaded the anti-superstition march that covered thousands of villages in the 1990s (documented in Channel IV's "Guru Busters" and by Discovery channel) and received national media attention for exposing and explaining several sensational "miracles" that had caught the imagination of major sections of the population, including the milk drinking Ganesh statues and the monkey-man.
Former leaders and office-bearers of Indian Rationalist Association include Dr R P Paranjpye (former vice-chancellor of Bombay University), S Ramanathan (former education minister of Madras), M N Roy, C N Annadurai (former chief minister of Tamil Nadu), Avula Sambasiva Rao (former chief justice of Andhra Pradesh High Court), H Narasimaiah (former vice-chancellor of Bangalore University), M V Ramamurthy (veteran lawyer from Andhra Pradesh) and Joseph Edamaruku (eminent writer and journalist from Kerala).