This blog-post consists of my notes on a one day seminar titled Know More’18 conducted by esSENSE Global at PWD rest house, Ernakulam on 25th November 2018.
Know more’18 started with Sajeevan Anthikad’s talk titled അറിയപ്പെടാത്ത സഹോദരൻ ഭാഗം രണ്ടു (Unknown Brother Part II) It was about the life and message of K. Ayyappan, a 20th century social reformer, thinker, rationalist, journalist, and politician of Kerala. He was one of the outspoken followers of Sree Narayana Guru.
Sree Narayana Guru had taught him that, to bring brotherhood among men, caste system should be eliminated from our society. One of his friends who belongs to lower caste got tortured at the hands of upper caste people and that incident inspired him to fight against caste system.
On 29th May 1917, to bring brotherhood among people, he started പന്തിഭോജനം or മിശ്രഭോജനം, a feast of all castes. He started a newspaper named സഹോദരൻ (Brother) in 1919 and a magazine named യുക്തിവാദി (Rationalist) in 1929 to bring സമഭാവന (mindset of equality) among masses as he strongly believed that only by transforming the mindset of masses and not by just amending the laws, caste system can be abolished and equality can be attained in our society.
He also stated that not only the upper castes but also the lower castes are responsible for prevalent caste system in India.
His activities helped to bring a feeling of brotherhood inside popular social, political organizations in Kerala like Sree Narayana Dharma Paripalana Yogam (SNDP) and Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC)
Born in Ezhava caste, he was an atheist and the father of modern elocution methodology in kerala. He considered observation and rationalistic thoughts as the foundation of atheism. As a politician he stood for democratic socialism.
Sajeevan Andhikad also added that Renaissance is the process of empowering everyone to think and act freely from the clutches of superstitions and blind, religious beliefs.
Hinduism is a religion based on caste system and a temple going Hindu is a supporter of Brahmanism. Giving permission to people belong to every caste to enter temple cannot be considered as renaissance. It can only be taken as upholding equal rights of citizens.
Sajeevan also brought to limelight the adverse qualities of Ayyapan. His daughter, Aisha had mentioned in a note that once she saw that her father rejecting an inter-caste marriage. During sunset years, he became extremely pessimistic about universal truths and became inclined towards theism. He couldn’t completely eliminate caste system from society.
Next lecture was conducted by Kavya Joseph titled ഭ്രമപദങ്ങൾ (Delusional Orbits)
She threw light on psychological phenomenons such as illusion, delusion and hallucination. She put religion as a deluded family where delusion of god and superstition get transferred from a primary inducer to secondary receiver and ultimately results in mass hysteria.
She derive at conclusions that religion is a shared mental disorder, fear is the source of superstition and prayer is nothing other than escapism.
She threw light on several neurotic conditions. Our society, in general outcast people with mental disorders due to our lack of proper mental health education. She also stressed that mental health is equally important to physical health. She also urge the development of skepticism and critical thinking in our society.
Dr Anoop’s talk was on the rationalism of family medicine. Family medicine was a new information to me.
Family medicine (FM), formerly family practice (FP), is a medical specialty devoted to comprehensive health care for people of all ages; the specialist is named a family physician or family doctor. Family practice is a division of primary care that provides continuing and comprehensive health care for the individual and family across all ages, genders, diseases, and parts of the body. Family physicians are often primary care physicians. It is based on knowledge of the patient in the context of the family and the community, emphasizing disease prevention and health promotion.
According to the World Organization of Family Doctors (WONCA), the aim of family medicine is to provide personal, comprehensive, and continuing care for the individual in the context of the family and the community.
Kerala has one doctor for every 500 people. It has a higher position in health care than other Indian states. The concept of family medicine is a relatively new area of specialization in Kerala. Academy of Family Physicians of India (AFPI) is the organization of family physicians in India.
He stressed that the focus should be on patient’s psychological, biological and sociological health rather than prescription of medicine.
He consider family physician as the gatekeeper of our healthcare system. He threw light on concepts like POLTIMI – Problem of Life Turned into Medical Illness and ICE – Ideas, Concerns and Expectations of a patient which is generally ignored by doctors.
Family doctors are like airbags in cars. It is just an option in India but in western countries, it is a necessity.
Kamalalayam Rajan presented the talk titled മായകണ്ണാടി (Magical Mirror).
The talk was on common human mental urge to know what other people think and do – an urge to read other’s mind. This human craving gave birth to pseudo, psychic techniques like telepathy, astrology and mentalism.
He gave life examples of famous psychics, mentalists and magicians like Natasha Demkina, Erik Jan Hanussan, Grigori Rasputin, Alessandro Casliostro, Joseph Dunninger, Theodore Annemann, Derren Brown and Wolf Messing.
He made the audience understand that mentalism is not a science of mind reading but an art of reading facial expressions and conclusions derived from interaction.
He proved it by showing us the performing videos of Nipin Niravat and Aadhi who are famous mentalists in kerala. He could simply convey the audience that all those performances are mere magic show rather than display of unusual human extrasensory abilities.
Augustus Morris’ talk titled പുണ്യാളൻ അഗര്ബത്തിയോസ് (Punyalan Incense Sticks) aimed at eliminating the fear of snake and snake bite.
Snakes are solitary, cold blooded reptiles evolved from four legged creatures. It has no ears, hence no hearing ability. It smells and gets direction using its tongue. It has very low eyesight and lacks eyelids. Snakes also possess no brain.
Out of 2900 species of snakes, only 600 is venomous. He is of the opinion that 85% of snake bites are from non venomous snakes. He explained how antivenom is developed.
Rate of snake bite and dog bite deaths in India ranks highest in world. Most of the snake bite deaths are caused by fear psychosis and our love affair with pseudo medicine.
Bijumon’s talk was on the oldest dam of Kerala – Mullaperiyar dam. He begun the lecture by stating that though kerala is god’s own country, it is also natural disasters’ own country. There are total of 61 dams in kerala.
He explained how dams function as flood control tools and how kerala can become prone to floods every 6 months if there are no dams. He compared Mullaperiyar dam with various other dams in our country. He also explained various reasons for dam failures and how Mullaperiyar dam can withstand the test of time and be of great use to both Tamilnadu and Kerala.
Vysakhan Thampi’s talk is titled സന്ധ്യക്കുദിക്കുന്ന ചന്ദ്രനും, 41 തെറ്റിദ്ധാരണകളും, how you understand astronomy wrong. I was attending his talk for the first time and to me, it was a highly informative one. Till today, I thought that Great Wall of China can be seen from moon but in reality, we can’t.
He explained advantages of green gas effect and cleared away several widespread misconceptions. He stated that sun is not a ball of fire and how people mistake astrology for astronomy. He also pointed out albedo effect, how mercury is a cold planet even though it is nearest to sun and how our naked eyes gets damaged while watching eclipses.
To me, Astronomy is a difficult, complex subject even though I tried reading few books of Stephen Hawkings. Today, Vysakhan Thampi’s talk motivated me to read and learn more on Astronomy.