[quote] (Sonia) Gandhi, who had a telephonic conversation with Union Shipping Minister T R Baalu on Sunday, said, “We will not be cowed down by threats and continue to work for the people. “Everybody should fight unitedly against communal forces,” a DMK release quoted her as saying in Chennai on Monday. [endquote] http://tinyurl.com/3c5w82
Secularism as insulting Hindus
By Shyam Khosla
Hindu outrage over the affidavit filed in the Supreme Court negating the very existence of Ram and debunking the great Ramayana tradition has served to prove that the Hindu society is in no longer in a mood to suffer insults and humiliation at the hands of secular fundamentalists and “rationalists”. So fierce and widespread was the national reaction that the Congress developed cold feet not necessarily because of the conviction that the Government it is leading had committed a blunder by insulting a national hero and a religious idol but largely because of the realisation that its “error of judgment” will hurt its fortunes in the future elections as it did in 80s when it opposed the construction of the temple at Ayodhya. The party that has persistently indulging in minorityism of the worst kind in search of Muslim votes was surprised by the strong reaction from some eminent Congressmen and “secular-liberal” commentators who underlined the enormity of the blunder committed in the affidavit. Dr Karan Singh, who was denied the party’s nomination for the high office of the Head of the State not because he was not eminently qualified for the job but because of his association with certain Hindu causes, hit the nail on the head by saying that the ASI by making “sweeping obiter dicta” that questioned the very existence of Ram as a historical figure had shocked the nation. Pointing out that Ram is a part and parcel of our cultural ethos and his being a historical figure was not a subject of academic research but one that affects the beliefs and sentiments of countless people around the world, the learned Doctor argued that historians do accept that “myths” and “legends” had a strong basis in actual events and personalities. Several other intellectuals who are in no way Hindu minded, also assert that Ram is as real to a vast majority of Hindus as any “historical” figure.
The Government hurriedly withdrew the anti-Hindu affidavits and in fresh submissions it told the Supreme Court of India that it would consider executing the Sethusumandram Shipping Channel Project through an alternative alignment so that the 30-kms long Raman Setu could be protected from damage. The Government further assured the court that a mechanism would be set up to consider objections and suggestions from petitioners—former Union Minister Subramaniam Swamy and others— and that a final decision would be taken in three months. In a desperate bid to undo the damage caused by the stupid assertions made in earlier affidavits, the Additional Solicitor General said the Government had total respect for all religions, “Hinduism in particular in the context of the present case”. It was alive to and conscious of religious sensibilities, including the “unique and holy text Ramayana”. One hopes it is a sincere and honest contention of the Government and not a mere gimmick to get out of the quagmire of secular fundamentalism which UPA Government has landed itself in. Any attempt on its part to indulge in Hindu bashing under pressure from its allies will amount to a blatant negation of this solemn pledge made in submissions to the highest court.
A major ally of the Congress in the ruling dispensation, DMK, is upset with the new position the Congress party has taken on this controversial project. Virtually negating the affidavit filed by the ASG promising to review the project, DMK leader and Union Minister T.R. Balu, says the Government will soon approach the Supreme Court to review its order of August 31, 2007 (that stayed the dredging on the Ram Setu portion of the project till the court disposes off the petitions) so that dredging on that portion could be resumed. There is a contradiction in the stands taken by the Union Law Ministry and the Ministry of Shipping that the Government would be hard put to resolve particularly because Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi has taken a more rigid stand saying any decision to shelve the project will not be acceptable to the DMK. More outrageous is the insults he is heaping on Ram who is revered by countless Hindus around the world. His obnoxious comments—“Who was Ram? In which engineering college did he get the degree to build a bridge”—need to be condemned by all right thinking persons. He needs to be told that though the Hindu society is tolerant, it would not take these insults lying down. His comment that Ramayana was a “fiction” that allegorically represented the conflict between Aryan and Dravidians is ridiculous. The man claims to be a “rationalist” but conveniently ignores the scientific research that proves on the basis of DNA tests that there is no Aryan-Dravidian divide in Indian society. Is this anti-God and anti-Brahmin leader so ignorant or arrogant that he doesn’t know that Ravana was a Shaivite Brahamin who had deviated from the path of Dharma?
As a Hindu, one is deeply interested that the sacred Ram Setu shouldn’t be damaged. However there are other sound reasons to abandon the project. Several knowledgeable and concerned citizens, including environmentalists are dead set against the Sethusamundram Shipping Canal Project (SSCP) arguing that it would cause immense ecological damage to the area and was also likely to expose the region to Tsunami. Maritime economists say the project is ill-conceived and is driven by politics. They hold that big ships wouldn’t be able to use the canal because of its limited capacity and even smaller ones would find it financially unviable because of heavy piloting fees. There would be hardly any saving in time because of slower speed while negotiating the canal. The project that will cost the nation more than Rs 3,000 crore, they say, will have only marginal benefits and may take more than two centuries to break even. Why then is the DMK so keen on this controversial enterprise? Is the Dravidian party playing into the hands of vested interests?