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Sunday, November 27, 2011

TEDxSRM - Swaminathan Gurumurthy - What Today's Youth Can Do

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Little-known till the mid-1980s, this Chennai-based Chartered Accountant shot into the limelight with a series of exposes against Dhirubhai Ambani and Reliance in "The Indian Express". Swaminathan Gurumurthy is an acclaimed writer whose columns have found place on several dailies and periodicals. He is known for his radical views and opinions while his intense combination of words and moods are a testimony of his passion towards raging issues. Gurumurthy's knowledge of economics and accounting principles is outstanding and his articles, though polemical, are always painstakingly well researched and crafted. He is a staunch proponent of the Swadeshi model of economic development and is a leading light of the Swadeshi Jagran Manch (SJM), which is currently spearheading the agitation against some of the economic policies. Besides politics, he also enjoys considerable clout in corporate circles.

Lord Ram as Harry Potter
S Gurumurthy, Daily Pioneer

ASI needs stones to read history and historians need bones to understand it. Neither are there any stones left by Lord Ram, nor do his bones exist. Ironically, certain sections of the UPA were more than willing to buy this ‘secular logic’

It was a drama that lasted less than 48 hours. On September 9, Lord Ram, who existed in the hearts of millions and millions of faithfuls for thousands of years, ceased to exist, and became a myth for the UPA Government. Like a stone thrown at a beehive, this set off a reaction that made the Government run for cover. On September 11, the Congress-led ‘secular’ UPA Government quickly turned round and admitted that Lord Ram was real.

See the sequence to this somersault. On 9/11, the UPA Government told the Supreme Court on oath that Lord Ram was just a myth and Ramayan no more than fable. Besides trashing Lord Ram, the Government had also dismissed Sita, Lakshman, Hanuman and others as just ‘characters’ in the play, Ramayan. The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) told us so, swore the Government.

Left historians welcomed the Government’s stand, calling it ‘objective’. What is the logic that made Lord Ram a myth? That was the logic of stones and bones. ASI needs stones to read history and historians need, in addition, bones to understand it. Neither does any stone left by Lord Ram, nor does any bone of Lord Ram, exist. So, they ask, how could Lord Ram have existed without the bone-stone testimony.

Human beings do not matter to ASI. And historians cannot accept that human beings are as objective as bones and stones are. So, oral traditions of human beings are no evidence to either of them. On this bone-stone objective test, Valmiki and Tulsidas, the Government told the Supreme Court, are all like Joanne K Rowling. And Lord Ram, just another Harry Potter, the character Rowling has created. Reports say that the Government had filed over 400 pages of records to assert this. But why did the Government try to make a Harry Potter out of Lord Ram who resides in the heart of crores of people?

The case in the Supreme Court was no issue of inheritance from any of those “characters”, as the affidavit would describe Lord Ram and others in Ramayan, claimed by their heirs of today. It was an issue of heritage of Lord Ram and Ramayan claimed by Hindu faithfuls – the heritage of Ram Setu – the bridge, they believe, was built by the army of monkeys to cross the seas to Sri Lanka to take on Ravan. But the DMK, a critical UPA partner, is hell-bent on cutting Ram Setu to build the Sethusamudram Channel to create ship-way between Sri Lanka and India.

Ramayan, whether written by Valmiki in Sanskrit or Tulsidas in Hindi or Kamban in Tamil, testifies that Lord Ram’s engineers led by Nal and Neel built the bridge. So, the faithfuls who oppose the Sethusamudram Ship Channel Project that cuts Lord Ram’s bridge, rely on Valmiki’s testimony. They contend that if Ramayan were true, then Ram Setu ought to be true. Consequently, they want Ram Setu to be protected, not destroyed.

They took the case to court. It is there that the UPA Government decided to establish, once and for all, the fact that Ram Setu was no monument. To prove that it took short-cut. If Lord Ram was a mythical character, Ram Setu, too, would be a myth. That is why, on September 9, the Government declared Lord Ram as non-est.

Unfortunately, the UPA Government’s affidavit on Lord Ram as a myth coincided with the pre-fixed VHP agitation on the streets all over the country against the destruction of Ram Setu. So, the issue was already on the streets when the Government filed the explosive affidavit. With the media disclosing the affidavit, there was spontaneous uproar from the people.

The rediff.com, which had put out the news of the affidavit, had opened its website for comments from surfers. In less than 24 hours, over 2,800 surfers responded, with a vast majority of them criticising the Government. Apart from BJP leaders, Mr Prakash Singh Badal and Ms J Jayalalithaa, from the non-saffron ranks, also demanded apology from the Government. Even Mr Lalu Prasad Yadav and Mr AB Bardan condemned the affidavit filed by the Government.

The BJP, as was to be expected, went on a war-mode and demanded the withdrawal of the affidavit, and apology from Ms Sonia Gandhi and Mr Manmohan Singh, besides seeking the removal of the concerned Minister. This forced the Government to began the disowning game.

The Prime Minister told Mr LK Advani that he was not aware of anything about the affidavit. This should be taken as true as Mr Manmohan Singh is unaware of most things in the Government. The Home Minister repeated the same thing; so did the Law Minister. In hours, the affidavit saying Lord Ram was a myth stood orphaned.

Then entered Ms Sonia Gandhi – an ‘expert’ on Lord Ram and Ramayan and also archaeology and history – who, the story goes, called the Additional Solicitor General, Mr Gopal Subramaniam, and disapproved the affidavit declaring Lord Ram as mythical. Mr Subramaniam reported it to the Law Minister, who, in turn, held a Press conference and announced: “Ram is Ram; he exists like Ganga and Himalaya.” So, all experts and their opinions and those of the legal pundits were overruled.

Ms Sonia Gandhi did not even have to use her pen to do it. The UPA’s style of ruling India is self-evident. When the Government does unpopular things, whether it is petrol price hike or affidavit on Lord Ram, Mr Manmohan Singh and company will take the hit. But whenever it does anything popular, like petrol price cut or employment guarantee announcement, or the withdrawal of the affidavit on Lord Ram, Ms Gandhi will take the credit. Now she gets the acclaim for restoring Lord Ram to history from mythology.

It is new experience for Lord Ram. He was exiled by his father, Dasaratha, under the pressure of his aunt, Kaikeyi, for years. But, now, when Lord Ram was declared as non-est by Mr TR Balu, Ms Gandhi overruled him and recovered Lord Ram in just two days. So, Kaikeyi’s wrong to Lord Ram has been atoned by Ms Gandhi, thousands of years later.

Post Script: The experts, who could alone testify on whether Ram Setu is man-made or natural formation, are the geologists and oceanographers, not archaeologists or historians. But their view was totally kept out. Why? Simple. Some of them had already expressed that Ram Setu could not be a natural formation, meaning that it could be man-made – that is, it could be monkey-made.

If the Government had heard them, the results are obvious. There would be no Sethusamudram Ship Channel Project; no contract for Rs 2500 crore; and, no profit to anyone. So the reverse logic – destroy Ram Setu and for that turn Lord Ram into a mythical character.

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