The BJP’s breast-beating over the historicity of Ram Sethu has seen the Congress-led UPA government do a U-turn at breakneck speed on the highway of electoral politics, even at the risk of hurting co-passengers.
Heads have rolled in the supposedly autonomous Archaelogical Survey of India, no thanks to the overreach of its affidavit, even while tourism and culture minister Ambika Soni is being taunted into putting in her papers by her colleague Jairam Ramesh.
Undaunted, the Tamil Nadu chief minister M. Karunanidhi (DMK cabinet member T.R. Baalu is believed to have had a hand in the original ASI affidavit) has come down like a tonne of bricks on those opposing the “development of Tamil Nadu” while standing on the plank of religious sentiment.
MuKa, as the Tamil television channels call him, is reported to have asked if Lord Rama was an engineer to have built the bridge 17 lakh years ago.
“Who is this Ram? From which engineering college did he geet the engineering degree? Where is the proof that the bridge was built by him?”
As if to underline the perils of placing too much faith on, well, faith in a country which tellingly boasts of more places of worship than schools, colleges and hospitals, The Telegraph has a fine story today on another controversy simmering in the name of Lord Rama, several thousand miles away from Ram sethu, at the other tip of the country.
The Jammu & Kashmir government is developing a village called Sutti Haran (reputedly a distortion of Sita Haran, meaning the spot from which Sita was abducted by Ravana) into a tourist resort. The local Hindu population firmly believes in the Ramayan link, but those opposed to the project believe that a revered Muslim site is on the verge of being usurped by Hinduism.
Which raises a very simple question:
If all the myths and legends about all our religious symbols and icons were to be respected in every village, town and city of India i.e. Bharat in the name of majority (or minority) sentiment, can even a handful of projects take off in full steam, without some party or the other, letting off, well, steam on majority (or minority) sentiment being trampled?
Or, should religious sentiment always gain precedence over everything else?
Only majority religious sentiment?
Also read: ‘Ramayana is not a myth‘
Infographic: courtesy The Telegraph, Calcutta