On August 20th, the well-known rationalist and Gandhian, Dr. Narendra Dabholkar was shot dead in Pune, the city which produced rationalists like Phule, Agarkar, Ranade, Shinde and others. While the murder has sent shock waves through the country, we need to ask ourselves, what accounts for the rise of irrationality all around us today? How does the assault on reason -- and dissent -- dovetail into the agendas of the religious fundamentalists of various hues? How has the media been complicit in peddling unreason? Why has a spurious, commodified, pop spiritualism become a gigantic industry? What does it mean to be a truly secular society? What resources -- intellectual, cultural, scientific, political -- can we mobilize to counter this rising tide of unreason? In the first of a series, Professor Romila Thapar speaks about the assault on reason.