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Not in Ram's name

Not in Ram's name

Author: Editorial
Publication: The Pioneer
Date: July 25, 2008

Congress back to Hindu-bashing

Soon after winning the trust vote the UPA Government seems to be in a hurry to reward those who voted in its favour. Nothing else can explain the remarkable absurdity of the latest stand of the Government in the case of the Sethusamudram Ship Channel Project, at present before the Supreme Court, other than an attempt to please ally DMK. This time the Government's counsel has taken the plea that the Government was not destroying the bridge as there was no bridge. The argument is that there was no man-made structure but a superman-made structure that was broken by Sri Rama himself. The convulsions the Government's arguments have taken in this case and the corner it has painted itself into would be exceedingly funny were it not that the faith of millions, as well as the highest court in the land, was involved. In its keenness to pander to crass commercial interests the Government seems quite willing to take everybody for a ride. Several months ago the Government had shocked the country by denying the very existence of Lord Ram in its petition before the Supreme Court. Now it has come up with another loose interpretation of Indian scriptures, derived from a lesser known work, to justify the demolition of the Ram Setu. It seems to escape the Government that the historicity or otherwise of the events that have the Ram Setu as their centre has little to do with the issue. The Ram Setu is associated in the minds of millions of people in the country with Lord Ram. They believe the site to be sacred and their feelings would be hurt were it to be damaged.

It is not that people who have been vocal about this issue have been inflexible. An alternative alignment of Sethusamudram Shipping Canal will preserve the Ram Setu while allowing the project to go through. This is in spite of the fact that many experts have deep reservations about the project. Over many months it has emerged that the project may not be commercially viable in the long run as larger modern ships will in any case have to continue to stick to the longer old routes. Serious doubts have been expressed over the ecological impact of the canal that will stress not just life in the sea but also human populations in coastal regions by altering climate patterns and opening the way for tropical storms and tsunamis. The issue requires more debate before the project is cleared. Yet the Government is bent upon railroading it, ramming it down the throats of an unwilling population just to please vested interests. It continues to completely ignore the sensitivities involved. Now that it has won the confidence vote, it feels it can go ahead. Yet there will be a price to pay. The Government's unholy agenda will be undone, as indeed, shall this Government.

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