Saturday, October 2, 2010

Ayodhya verdict - Opinions from the papers

In The Hindu, distinguished historian Romila Thapar provides her perspective on the judgment.


What happened in history, happened. It cannot be changed. But we can learn to understand what happened in its fuller context and strive to look at it on the basis of reliable evidence. We cannot change the past to justify the politics of the present. The verdict has annulled respect for history and seeks to replace history with religious faith. True reconciliation can only come when there is confidence that the law in this country bases itself not just on faith and belief, but on evidence.


The majority verdict of the Allahabad High Court on the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid dispute is a compromise calculated to hold the religious peace rather than an exercise of profound legal reflection, says an editorial in the same paper.


If overall the reaction from the public and from large sections of political opinion has been subdued, much of it has to do with the mood of the nation in which the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid issue does not find much traction any more — in striking contrast to the 1990s. On balance, the nature of the Allahabad High Court verdict should help the nation as a whole put a longstanding dispute behind. Secular India needs to move on and not be held hostage to grievances, real or imaginary, from the distant past. A great deal of the responsibility lies with political parties and religious groups to maintain harmony in the face of fundamentalist forces seeking to disturb the peace and profit from raising communal issues.


A real danger that the Ayodhya verdict will open the floodgates of uninhibited majoritarianism and perhaps, even a Hindu rashtra are grossly exaggerated, says Swagan Dasgupta in The Telegraph:


One of the features of the response of the organized Hindu camp to the verdict is the conscious show of restraint. The Hindutvavadis may have been pleased as punch that their central arguments were upheld by the court, but they have been very careful to not show it. This is on account of the realization that India is not in a mood for confrontational politics and that, unlike the 1990s, belligerence will be politically counter-productive. The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, for example, is elated that the whole Ayodhya episode has elevated it to the status of being Hindu India’s most visible face. It would not like to compromise on that.


Shekhar Gupta answers a very important question in his column in The Indian Express:



The question everybody is asking is, can a mosque and a temple coexist? India is full of such places. My favourite is Kanchipuram, where the mutt of the Shankaracharya has a sizeable mosque next to it. What makes this spot so unique is that right across the street, sternly overlooking the mutt and the mosque, sits a bust of Periyar, the great atheist, iconoclast and the founder of the Dravida movement. An inscription under it reads:
There is no God,
There is no God,
There is no God at all,
The inventor of God is a fool,
The propagator of God is a scoundrel,
The worshipper of God is a barbarian.

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