Editor: Vir Narain. Phone: 2686 2191; 46017206; Administrative Secretary: Anil Bhandari, Email.Id: humnistindia@gmail.com

    A Brief History

        The genesis of the Indian Humanist Union lay in an earlier society called the Society for Promotion of Freedom of Thought (SPFT) established in 1954 at Allahabad (India) by Narsingh Narain, a former teacher, civil servant and concurrent philosophy scholar. Later, when he learnt of the International Humanist & Ethical Union, as a sequel to the "Amsterdam Declaration" (1952), he changed the nomenclature of SPFT to "The Humanist Union" which he founded in 1960 at Naini Tal with the primary objective of the diffusion of knowledge concerning moral and social problems considered from the Humanist point of view, which, briefly according to IHU, stood for two basic values - love for fellow beings coupled with the scientific spirit of free enquiry. The first Chairman of the IHU was P N Sapru, former High Court Judge and Member of Indian Parliament who was succeded by Narsingh Narain, earlier working as the first General Secretary of the Union . In 1966, Indian Humanist Union commenced the publication of a periodical The Humanist Outlook devoted to the furthering of the scientific attitude, ethical values, social reform and communal harmony.

         In 1970 at the joint initiative of Narsingh Narain and Abe Soloman, a distinguished humanist & Life Member of IHU the Humanist Endowment Fund Society was set up by some members of the IHU to provide financial stability to the humanist movement in India. On his death in 1972 Narsingh Narain bequeathed all his life's savings to this Society. The Corpus of HEFS has continued to grow steadily though slowly, mainly through further donations by dedicated members.Narsingh Narain wrote extensively for Indian and International journals. He attended World Humanist Congresses in London (1957), Oslo (1962) and Boston (1970). His input into humanist thinking was most significant in respect of some basic questions like theism and atheism in relation to humanism, the role and scope of reason, the distinction between moral and spiritual values, the nature of secularism, the concept of humanism as a religion, etc.

        On his death, in 1972, Narsingh Narain received rich tributes from all over the world for his erudition, intellectual brilliance & contribution to the humanist movement. After the death of Narsingh Narain, Shyam Kumari Khan, a noted social worker, General Secretary of the Indian Council for Child Welfare, Member of the Indian Parliament and a Founder Member of the IHU was elected as the new Chairperson. She was succeded by Sajid Hussain a former Member of the U.P. Legislative Assembly and Life Member of IHU and then by Prakash Narain Founder Member of IHU with a brilliant academic record and a rich experience in the United Nations and the Government of India which included working as Chairman of the Railway Board and Principal Secretary to the Govt. of India and also as Secretary to Govt. of India in several other Ministries.

        IHU is devoted primarily to the furtherance of human values and the building of a more humane society through an ethics based on human perceptions and capabilities without linking it with any supra-human entity, that is, on assessments made in a spirit of reason and free enquiry. Its endeavours are oriented towards bringing about attitudinal changes amongst humanists and others through diverse means like bringing out a quarterly journal and other publications, development of humanist music cassettes, staging of street plays, holding of periodical discussions, Symposia and Seminars as well as collaborative network linked voluntary social work. The annual Narsingh Narain Memorial Seminars specially receive wide coverage in the national and international media which helps in spreading humanist values into a wider spectrum of society. The IHU also participates actively in the International humanist movement in regard to organizational and conceptual matters.

         In January 1996 Prakash Narain Chairman IHU wrote a paper on the need for substantial revision of IHEU's existing "Minimum Statement" of Humanism. He stressed the need for introducing in any brief or minimum statements of humanism a high degree of semantic linkage with the word "humanism" as also the importance of incorporating in them a reference to "human values" and "a humane society" which would automatically include concern for animals, plants & ecology and thus clarify that the modern international humanist movement is not anthropocentric. The points made by him received wide support and a revised Minimum Statement substantially incorporating the proposals made by the Indian Humanist Union was voted and adopted at the IHEU Board Meeting held in Mexico City in November 1996. IHU is also a Founder Member of the South Asia Humanist Net Work established in 1995.


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