MUMBAI: In a shocking incident, a 22-year-old girl was thrown into a burning pit to 'appease the gods', at Tembi Pada in Virar, 62 km from Mumbai.India is such a bizarre place. Someone once remarked that it's like having a modern 21st century world view live cheek-by-jowl with animist neolithic worldviews. I'm not going to give the incredulous, "in this day and age!" line. In this day and age, us supposedly civilized moderns do all kinds of horrendous things, and we just seem to have perfected the means to cause havoc and destruction across a large scale. And let's not even talk about the promotion of killing the unborn as a moral good.
Worse, the girl, Jyotsna Tandel, was not given any medical assistance from the time of the incident around 10 pm on Friday till 6 am on Saturday.
At present, she is in KEM Hospital, Parel, with 64% burns that she suffered after being 'offered for sacrifice' in a pit.
On Saturday, she was rescued from the house where she was held captive by so-called faith-healers and rushed to Sanjeevani Hospital in Virar (W).
The Virar police have since arrested two members of a family — Vijay Mangela (22) and Anita Mehar (21) — in this connection.
On a visit to the village, which is a settlement of fishermen, TOI learnt that Jyotsna and 20 other youngsters were suffering from chicken pox. The Mehar family claimed to have the 'power' to cure the condition.
What this kind of stuff gets me thinking about is something along these lines: well, we're all shocked. But just why are we shocked? If all worldviews and outlooks are equally correct, then should we not respect the religious beliefs of this people who sincerely think they're appeasing their gods? After all -- who knows anything about God, or the gods anyway, really? We really cannot know anything about what is truly right or wrong, can we, after all?
How on earth can we talk about good and bad without talking about first principles and absolutes? I simply do not get it.
[This is not to say that reasonable people cannot have genuine disagreement in the area of morality, or that the only reasonable alternative is, say, Catholic dogma. But to simply cut off the basis of the conversation, to deny the knowability of truth, seems to me to be, well, foolish at best.]