“In religion and politics people’s beliefs and convictions are in almost every case gotten at second-hand, and without examination, from authorities who have not themselves examined the questions at issue but have taken them at second-hand from other”- Mark Twain.
Entangled in this second hand business, lies a historically and politically important structure, the Ram Setu. The bridge, which is believed to have been built a whopping 17,25,000 years ago by Hindu deity, the invincible and dynamic incarnation of the Supreme, Shri Ram and his vaanar sena, was recently “rediscovered” by NASA space images. Its “rediscovery” opens the gates of ancient history inseparably linked to mythology.
The structure, which seems to have been built of a chain of shoals, its unique curvature justifying the fact that it is man-made, has millions of Hindus celebrating across the globe; proving the existence of such a religiously vital structure. However, ironically enough, the Govt. of India who could be celebrating in the discovery of this structure, so spiritually important to the majority of its citizens and their history, refuses to accept this as a claim to fame. The Central Govt. believes that there is no evidence in proving that this structure built between the Gulf of Mannar and The Palk Strait is of any historical importance and is entirely a natural phenomenon.
Thanks to this conviction of the Govt., the bridge now lies on the verge of destruction to give way to the Setu Samudam Shipping Canal Project (SSCP) approved by the Govt. of India. The SSCP [shipping canal project] is based on the notion that it is inevitable to break the Shri Ram Setu for easy navigation. The canal, once completed would shorten the length of sea route of ships thereby saving a considerable Rs. 21 crore per year as fuel expenditure. However, many scientists and Naval Officials believe that this route would be useful only for light and medium weight vessels, considering the size of the canal, and heavy vessels would have to take the longer route as before.
It is important to realize that the discovery of this Ram Setu Bridge bridges the gap between history and mythology. The occurrence of this structure in Hindu’s religious books, considered to be mythological lore, now comes across as a fact thereby increasing the importance of this bridge manifold and making it the most ancient (even pre-historic) man-made structure. The Ram Setu is far more ancient than the Pyramids of Egypt and the Great Wall of China, and all the wonders of the world.
If this holy bridge is indeed timeless and so important to the sentiments of a religious community, there is no reason why the Govt. should not look for alternatives for constructing its dream project. If the spiritual and religious arguments are not convincing enough, the Govt. should inspect the disastrous consequences that would occur once this project is completed. The Ram Setu is considered to be a natural barrier against Tsunami, and its destruction would lead to submergence of the state of Kerala once it’s hit by a Tsunami.
It is not true that alternative solutions are not available. According to the specialists, a sea route may be prepared for navigation without damaging Sri Ram Setu, by removing the barren sand heaps near a village on the west coast of Tamil Nadu. This will not only give a shorter route for navigation but also protect the oldest man-made heritage.
It is agreed that development is indeed more important than resting in past glories and laurels, but if it comes at a cost of destruction and disastrous consequences, then interest of the citizens and their protection should be of prime importance. It is now to be seen that the governing body of a nation should not overlook its spiritual and religious sentiments, along with casting its citizens in grave peril at the cost of few crores of rupees, which can be saved even with alternative options available.
This controversy compels the citizens of our country, ordinary, religious, or political to bridge the gap between religion and politics; both of which are extremely factual and illusionary at the same time, almost like a mirror image of each other, the insurgency or glory in one is always consequential to the other more often than not.