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"Religious Suicide" and the Limits of Indian Secularism

"Religious Suicide" and the Limits of Indian Secularism
130 St. George Street, Media Commons Theatre
Time: Oct 28th, 4:00 pm End: Oct 28th, 6:00 pm
Interest Categories: South Asian, Religion, Study of (FAS), Law, Faculty of , Cinema, 2000-
Screening and Discussion with the director Shekhar Hattangadi

The Asian Institute presents

"Religious Suicide" and the Limits of Indian Secularism: Screening and Discussion with the director Shekhar Hattangadi

What happens when a traditional religious practice conflicts with modern secular law? The talk - in conjunction with the film - addresses this central question as it looks at the tensions that arise when a religious tradition endorses the self-extinguishment of human life in a legal system that treats suicide as a criminal offence. It explores the doctrinal-scriptural, ethical, medico-legal and sociological aspects of Santhara - a Jain practice in which a person fasts unto death - and examines how religion, law and constitutional secularism intersect in the ongoing debate outside the courtroom and in the litigation over the legality of the practice. Irrespective of how the Indian courts may rule in the matter, Santhara remains a classic example of the law-religion conflict, and provides an ideal template for debating the question of reconciling individual freedom as well as a minority community's religious rights with the justification for state intervention in matters of religion.

A Mumbai,India-based media columnist, law professor and film-maker, Shekhar Hattangadi believes he is an academic at heart. He topped University of Mumbai's law exams bagging three gold medals, and he fondly recalls his years as a student and researcher on the American campus: first as a graduate student at Ohio University in Athens,OH and then as a Kennedy Fellow in Public Policy at Harvard University's John F.Kennedy School of Government. SANTHARA: A Challenge to Indian Secularism? is the first of his series of documentaries examining controversial religious practices in India.

This event is free and open to all. Registration is required. For further information, please contact the Asian Institute, Rachel Ostep at 416-946-8996.

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