Guest post by SANJAY KUMAR.
We are a tired party after two days quick hike up to the base of IndraharPass in the Dhauladhar range. Half of the students are visually challenged, the other half have been painstakingly guiding them over tricky stretches of the trail. The bus for Delhi is three hours late. We are stretched over our carry mats, reclining on backpacks, on the pavement behind a row of buses at Dharamshala bus stand. The issue under discussion is Atheism. It hasn’t taken long for visually challenged students to split into firm believers who pray regularly, occasional/opportunist believers, agnostics and atheists. Arguments are both experiential and theoretical. During one particularly intense exchange an occasional believer asks a firm believer, “If there really is a God who is omnipotent, good and takes care of every one, then tell me why has he made us so that we can not see?” It is an old normative argument against the conception of God. Presumably Darwin turned atheist arguing similarly with himself after witnessing the pain of his infant daughter due to an incurable illness. Closer home, revolutionary Bhagat Singh gives a liberal juridical version of the argument in ‘Why Am I an Atheist?’ Believer’s reply is spontaneous, in a matter of fact way. “You know what, I find myself really fortunate in being visually challenged. Due to this I got a chance to study. Had it not been for this, I would have been selling sweets from my father’s push cart in our small town.”
Realities of life in a country like India have to be piercingly brutal for a talented young man to think that it is mainly through his physical disability that he got access to a decent education and moving out of a life of poverty. This note is intended to bring some consequences of such reality to the recent discussions on Kafila regarding education at Stephen’s College.