There are a number of rationalist, atheist, skeptic, and secularist groups active in the states and regions of India. It was to coordinate the activities of these organisations at the national level that as part of 10th Kerala State Conference of Kerala Yukthivadi Sangham, a meeting of activists from around India was convened at Trivandrum, Kerala. The meeting decided to launch a federation of all the rationalist and skeptic associations active in India. As a result, the Federation of Indian Rationalist Associations was launched on February 7, 1997 at Palakkad, Kerala. Basava Premanand of Indian CSICOP, Tamil Nadu was the founder-convener of the federation. Since its foundation, the FIRA membership has increased to “nearly 50” organisations in 2005, to “more than 75” in 2011 to 83 in 2012.

Dr G Vijayam, Atheist Centre, Vijayawada, was elected as the patron of the association at the 8th National Conference held in Nagpur on 11 and 12 February 2012. The conference reelected Prof Narendra Nayak of Dakshina Kannada Rationalist Association, Karnataka as the national president of the association and U.Kalanathan of Kerala Yukthivadi Sangham as its general secretary.