|Occupation||Rationalist, sceptic, columnist and biochemistry professor|
Nayak is the current president of the Federation of Indian Rationalist Associations (FIRA). He founded the Dakshina Kannada Rationalist Association in 1976 and has been its secretary since then. He also founded an NGO called Aid Without Religion in July 2011. He tours the country conducting workshops to promote scientific temper and showing people how to debunk godmen and frauds. He has conducted over 2000 such demonstrations in India, including some in Australia, Greece, England, Norway, Denmark, Sri Lanka and Nepal. He is also a polyglot who speaks 9 languages fluently, which helps him when he is giving talks in various parts of the country.
Life and work
Nayak was named after Swami Vivekananda (born Narendra Nath Datta). He has stated that seeing his father's business premises being repossessed by the bank and his father buying a lottery ticket on the advice of an astrologer to pay off the loan with the total confidence that it would get the first prize made him turn to rationalism. He married Asha Nayak, a lawyer in Mangaluru in a non-religious ceremony. Nayak started out working as a lecturer in the Department of biochemistry in the Kasturba Medical College in Mangalore in 1978. In 1982, he met Basava Premanand, a notable rationalist from Kerala, and was influenced by him.
Nayak decided to take on full-time anti-superstition activism in 2004 when he heard that a girl had been sacrificed in Gulbarga in Karnataka. He was an assistant professor of biochemistry when he took voluntary retirement on 25 November 2006, after working there for 28 years.
Before the general election in 2009, Nayak laid an open challenge to any soothsayer to answer 25 questions correctly about the forthcoming elections. The prize was set at ₹1,000,000 (about US$15,000). About 450 responses were mailed to him, but none were found to be correct. The Federation of Indian Rationalist Associations has been conducting such challenges since 1991. During May 2013 Karnataka state assembly election, disappointed at the challenge being one-sided, Nayak had decided against the idea of challenging astrologers this time. But when a Bengaluru-based astrologer Shankar Hegde made claims to predict the election results accurately, he received the challenge. Nayak offered to hand over a cheque of Rs.10 lakh (after deducting taxes as applicable under income Tax Act), if 19 out of the 20 results were proven right. However, later on astrologer Hegde did not turn up.
Through the organisation named Aid Without Religion which was registered in July 2011, he has been helping people and institutions where there are no religious rituals, superstitious practices, unscientific systems of medicine and such supernatural beliefs. The registration was done at Rahu Kalam, a time of the day which is the most inauspicious - so it was a double rather a triple whammy, a Saturday, new moon day that too in the month of Ati which is considered to be the most unlucky time and at Rahu Kalam!
He has been featured on National Geographic's television show Is it real?. He has also appeared on the Discovery Channel. He has been a regular columnist at the newspaper Mangalore Today since its inception. He also serves on the editorial board of the Folks Magazine.
He has admitted to have been attacked for his activism a few times. He also has stated that his scooter's brake wires were once found severed, after an astrologer predicted his death or injury.
Nayak advocates that more people should be taught to perform the so-called miracles of godmen. He also advocates that people should be trained to recognize pseudoscience and demand scientific evidence. He holds the opinion that well-known scientists should be convinced to join the cause and form pressure groups against pseudoscience. He is also lobbying for a bill for the separation of state and religion to be introduced in the Indian parliament. After the murder of anti-superstition activist Narendra Dabholkar and enactment of the anti-superstition ordinance in Maharashtra state, Nayak expressed the need of a similar law in Karnataka.
- 2011 "Distinguished Service to Humanism Award" from the International Humanist and Ethical Union
- 2015 "Lawrence Pinto Human Rights Award" from the Friends of Lawry
- Superstition in India
- Federation of Indian Rationalist Associations
- James Randi and his One Million Dollar Paranormal Challenge
- Basava Premanand
- Prabir Ghosh
- Narendra Dabholkar
- "About Us: Narendra Nayak". Indian CSICOP. Retrieved 18 September 2013.
- "'Aid Without Religion' Trust Endeavours to Spread Rationality". 30 July 2011. Retrieved 30 December 2014.
- "Literacy doesn't make us http://www.daijiworld.com/news/newsDisplay.aspx?newsID=443153educated". The Times of India. 10 December 2011. Archived from the original on 29 September 2013. Retrieved 17 September 2013. External link in
- "IHEU Awards for 2011". International Humanist and Ethical Union. 23 August 2011. Retrieved 17 September 2013.
- "Gawd! You can do it too". The Hindu. 21 June 2004. Retrieved 17 September 2013.
- "Extra Mural Lecture By Narendra Nayak: The Need for Rational Thinking". IIT Madras. Archived from the original on 18 September 2013. Retrieved 18 September 2013.
- "60th Birthday Celebration of Narendra Nayak" (PDF). Indian Sceptic. March 2011. Retrieved 17 September 2013.
- "Predict results and win Rs10 lakh". Daily News & Analysis (DNA). 26 April 2014. Retrieved 2 March 2017.
...said Narendra Nayak, national president of the FIRA. "There was a similar offer in 2009 too, but no astrologer came even five percent near to accuracy. There were some counter challenges also but, they withdrew at the last minute proving that astrology can not predict election results," he said.
- "There is no such thing as scientific astrology". DNA India. 11 May 2009. Retrieved 17 September 2013.
- "Rationalist chief's Rs 10 lakh safe". The Times of India. 15 May 2009. Archived from the original on 2 February 2014. Retrieved 6 September 2013.
- "Predictions fail to match mandate, reward money has no takers". The Times of India. 18 May 2009. Archived from the original on 18 September 2013. Retrieved 17 September 2013.
- "Predict and collect Rs.10 lakh, Astrologer told, Says Narendra Nayak". 7 May 2013. Retrieved 30 December 2014.
- "Exorcism". Is It Real?. Season 1. 25 August 2005. National Geographic.
- "Folks Magazine: Editorial Board". Folks Magazine. Archived from the original on 23 August 2011. Retrieved 18 September 2013.
- "Rationalists fight superstition with dignity and nunchakus". The Times of India. 22 August 2013. Archived from the original on 25 August 2013. Retrieved 17 September 2013.
- "Debunking 'midbrain activation' of children". The Hindu. Retrieved 10 October 2018.
- Johannes Quack (22 November 2011). Disenchanting India: Organized Rationalism and Criticism of Religion in India. Oxford University Press. p. 170. ISBN 978-0-19-981260-8. Retrieved 17 September 2013.
- "Activists seek early enactment of law separating state, religion". The Times of India. 21 August 2013. Archived from the original on 18 September 2013. Retrieved 17 September 2013.
- "Separate religion from politics: FIRA president". DNA India. 13 February 2012. Retrieved 17 September 2013.
- "Rationalists demand anti-superstition law". The New Indian Express. 22 August 2013. Retrieved 18 September 2013.
- "Humanism award for anti-superstition activist". The Times of India. 26 August 2011. Archived from the original on 31 December 2013. Retrieved 17 September 2013.
- "Lawrence Pinto Human Rights Award for Prof Narendra Nayak". The Hindu. 28 January 2015. Retrieved 28 January 2015.
- "Dr. Narendra Nayak's articles". Mukto Mano (Freethinker).
- "Fake astrologer falls into rationalists' trap". Deccan Herald. 28 March 2004. Archived from the original on 6 May 2004.
- Narendra Nayak (4 November 2003). "Indian Rationalists Expose Another Quack". International Humanist News. International Humanist and Ethical Union. Archived from the original on 29 September 2013.