Excerpt from an interview with Pravin Togadia here:
What do you say to people who say that Ram is a mythical character and that he never existed?
According to rationalists, anything that cannot be proven does not exist. Therefore, since God’s existence has not been proven, he too does not exist. I want to ask them: Has it been proven that God does not exist? So, why are you so eager to believe that God does not exist? To compare the history of Islam or Christianity to that of Hinduism is not fair. Those are products of fairly young civilisations, not like Hinduism, which is a product of the oldest living civilisation in the world.
This is the tactic that we have mastered so well as a nation. Probably, this is the reason most of our “initiatives” go nowhere.
I am referring to the tactic of broadening the scope of an argument so much that there can be no conclusion. Then, in a frenzy of violence, people give up and forget what the original argument was in the first place.
The whole thing started with a simple question: Is it ok for the government to go ahead with the dredging, in view of the fact that this would damage the so-called “Ramar Sethu”. The points to be considered here: Is there any evidence to prove that “Ramar Sethu” is a man-made formation.
If it is, then it probably classifies as a national heritage (note: this still doesn’t have anything to do with the much wider debate of who built the sethu itself. We are only asking if some “being” built it ‘coz, if that is the case, then it is a part of our historical footprint as a nation; comparable to the numerous historical monuments across the rest of the nation)
When the ASI researches it and says that “Ramar Sethu” is a natural formation, that is that ! No body is asking if Ram existed or not, or if the Ramayana is just a myth. Nobody has any business getting into this argument ‘coz this is purely academic and nothing to do with the core issue here.
(There is a sinister argument at play here: If we agree, for the time-being, that Ramayana did actually happen, then the natural formation must be the “Ramar Sethu”. That is like jumping the gun. There is a whole of lot of difference between co-relation and causivity. Just because two events follow each other chronologically, it doesn’t hold that one caused the other.)
Coming back, at the time of the affidavit being filed, the only question being asked was : Is the “Ramar Sethu” a man-made formation.That was the only question that needed to be answered by the affidavit. It did not need to go into whether there was any evidence of Ram’s existence.
The affidavit tried to answer too many questions. The Hindu right-wing picked up all the juice offered by the affidavit and launched into the government.
At this point, I am ashamed to say, our government decided that scientific findings can be thrown out of the window in favour of votes.
Now consider this statement from the CM of Tamil Nadu:
Refusing to withdraw his remarks on Lord Rama, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister, M Karunanidhi on Thursday said that as per Ramayana’s author Valmiki, Rama was a drunkard. “I have not said anything more than Valmiki, who authored Ramayana. Valmiki had even stated that Rama was a drunkard. Have I said so?” Karunanidhi told reporters. Challenging Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader L K Advani, he asked, “Is Advani ready to discuss Ramayana with me in the same platform after going through Valmiki Ramayana fully?”
This is an example of people answering the wrong (irrelevant) questions, coming up with outrageous (sensational) statements etc to stir up their vote banks. Does it make any difference to the Sethu project whether Rama was a drunkard or not ?
Who suffers in the end ? Well, we the know the answer to that question, don’t we ?
This tactic makes sure we do not complete any of the projects we start. Perhaps that is in the interest of most politicians. If we completed everything, why would we need to support this humongous monopoly called “government” anymore ?
P.S: It is symptomatic of our cultural ethos that the only angle that is looked into is the religious (or is it political ?) one. See here for a more rounded look at the project and why it may not be all that great for this nation.