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Tuesday, November 2, 2010

India's Journey from Unholy Past to Holy Future

To the surprise of many, the honorable judges of the Allahabad High Court have at last pronounced their judgment, a judgment that was awaited by the whole nation for almost six decades with bated breath, a judgment that has afforded an opportunity to the government—which, in its alertness to stem any communal violence, had deployed 20 companies of central paramilitary forces, 800 constables, 150 inspectors, and 30 officers in Lucknow alone, while keeping the paramilitary forces ready at 16 locations that are closer to airports across the country, along with AN 32 transport aircraft of the Indian Air Force for instant deployment anywhere should any religious disturbance arise following the Ayodhya verdict—to heave a sigh of relief.

Unsurprisingly, the common man on the street has exhibited incredible serenity in his/her reaction to the court’s pronouncement—two of the three judges ruled that the site should be divided among the three litigants. The judgment appears to push for a closure of the Ayodhya conflict, which has had the nation in the grip of communal tensions of the worst kind for the past 60 years, and march forward to build a new India. Political leaders of all hues too have risen above their stated ideology and opportunism to call for peace and respect for the verdict.

But it is the elite, who, instead of paving the way for soothing the ruffled feelings, if any, of the common man, have created a cacophony over the verdict: some in the electronic media have said that the verdict is like a ‘Panchayat judgment’; some have termed it as a judgment that relied more on faith rather than on the fact of law; some newspapers screamed, “Two-thirds of land to Hindus and one-third to Muslims”; yet others shouted, “The court has pronounced a dangerous judgment where a deity has a preeminent claim over law.” They simply failed to see it as a means to end the 60-year-old litigation that has seized the nation in a worst religious conflict, holding back the much-needed economic growth.

Encouragingly, it is one of the judges, Justice S U Khan, who took the lead in unplugging the nation from this unholy past and in putting it on a new trajectory when he said in his prelude to the judgment: “Here is a small piece of land where angels fear to tread. It is full of innumerable landmines. We are required to clear it. Some very sane elements advised us not to attempt that.... However, we have to take risk. It is said that the greatest risk in life is not daring to take risk when occasion for the same arises.… This is one of those occasions. Have we succeeded or failed? No one can be a judge in his own case.”

And, fortunately, the nation as a whole appears to have passed its judgment on the Court’s verdict quite maturely: its cool attitude towards a once-hot religious conflict suggests a shift in its value system. Indeed, the nation’s response to the verdict clearly shows that the people are certainly moving on from the unholy mess and chaos of the past towards a new path of holiness—a holiness that simply dumps the chicanery of its political forces and the dogmatism of its so-called religious leaders. The youth of the nation appear to have taken upon themselves the mantle of steering the country towards reaping the full benefits from its ‘demographic dividend’ by leveraging on India’s newfound entrepreneurship, particularly among the private businesses that are, unlike the Chinese industry, less and less dependent on State patronage for growth.

It is only such rational behavior that can strengthen our democratic moorings and put the collective efforts and output of the 1.2 billion people at 8.5% plus growth rate per annum. Such an attitude alone can harness the potential commercial energy of its youth that has been unleashed by the reforms that the nation launched in the early 1990s.

Jai Ho, India!
- GRK Murty


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