The Centre, the ASI and their legal outfits are fighting to clear the way for the Sethu Samudram Canal Project which proposes to connect India and Sri Lanka with a tunnel. The project has become highly controversial as it involves the destruction of Ram Sethu, an undersea formation, believed to have been made by Rama. This structure is sacred to the Hindus.
The government is being extremely insensitive and foolish – insensitive to the religious sentiments of the majority, already smarting under the appeasement given to the minorities. Surely there cannot be any world-shaking economic gain to warrant the building of the Sethu Samudram that might let loose another Rath Yatra, culminating in another Barbri Masjid and Godhra and post Godhra carnage and bomb blasts? Is the centre out to create issues and test the secular fabric of india? Don’t we have enough already on our hands?
During the trust motion. the PM accused Advani of triggering off terrorism in India by masterminding the demolition of Babri Masjid. Why does he forget that the issue was reopened by Rajiv Gandhi by permitting worship in a long defunct place of worship? Isn’t the Congress once again indulging in the same mischief with Sethu Samudram bridge?
Or, does the congress have a clandestine arrangement with the BJP? Is it a double edged strategy to provide an issue that will land BJP in New Delhi in the 2009 elections, and the Congress too but 5 years hence, by creating a situation where it can cash in on the minorities' sense of insecurity, and play the secularism card? Anything is possible in the present political scenario peopled by self seeking men and criminals, totally divorced from their conscience. We live in days when principles and ideals have only political utility.
And so, coming back to Ramasamudram controversy, it is immaterial whether Rama or Budha or Christ or Mohammed are historical figures or not. Cultures and religions have grown around them and their teachings. All of them are close to our hearts and minds and spirits. Myths, conventions, customs and rituals constitute the stuff that identities are made of. Our consciousness is pervaded by them and what they represent. Our value systems on which theories of social coexistence are based, come from them. In short, they have become inextricable part of our identity. Challenging them amounts to subverting that which gives us our identities, and therefore, our identities per se.
Nothing can be more foolish than using scientific opinions as trump cards to negate the religious sentiments of the the Hindus regarding the Ram Samudra. Faith and belief are not things that can be put under the microscope. By its very definition, faith is something that transcends reason. If something can be proved scientifically, what is the need for faith? And which scientists, or which organization or society can dismiss faith as superstition on the grounds that there is no proven ‘ truth “ in it. What is truth? Scientific truth? Is there no truth other than what is confirmed by science? True, science searches for truth; but can TRUTH be contained within the limits of science? Are there not truths which lie beyond the reach of science, outside its frontiers?
How plain and poor life would be if ‘yes’ was the answer to the last query. How insipid life would be if it is totally demystified. How incomplete life would be without the Scriptures, the myths, the rituals and cunstoms which hold forth truths of their own that science have not succeeded in annihilating. Perhaps, over a period of time, science has been theoretically challenging these truths - but has not driven them out of the hearts and minds of the people. For faith is rooted in the sixth sense which still remains a grey area for science.
The state must be sensitive to the faith of its people. It should not offend their religious sensibilities. The alternative path for Sethu Samudram is the answer, no matter how much more expensive it might prove. If the government can divert some of the mammoth funds it has in its custody that enables the type of horse trading we saw recently, ten bridges, I am sure, can be built across the Palk Straits.