A slogan which became reality last week when our Prime Minister performed “BhoomiPujan” on the temple site situated near the banks of Saryu in Ayodhya.
In the past week, we must have all seen people raising questions, even mocking the move, which itself isn’t wrong, we are a democracy and we are tolerant of different opinions. But I do feel the need to answer a few questions or concerns rather, that have been commonly raised.
This move threatens the Secular Character of India…
The most common and the most sensational of all the questions being raised, although it might look so but that’d be a misguided viewpoint, the temple inauguration had nothing to do with secularism, it’s important to note that well before passing the verdict in the Ram Janma Bhoomi case, the Hon. Supreme Court had declared that the case was a title dispute and would be tried like one.
And then concurring with a previous observation of the Allahabad HC that the site housed a temple before the mosque came into existence, and that too had come from archaeological evidence. Subsequently, Ram-Lalla(the deity) was awarded the title of the land.
In summary, it was a case decided by the topmost judicial authority of the country and no government had anything to do with it.
Let’s take a look at our history, shortly after Independence, the Government of India went on to rebuild the famous Somnath Temple in Saurashtra, Gujarat. The then Home Minister Sardar Patel wanted the temple restored which was destroyed several times by foreign invaders, he went to Mahatma Gandhi with the proposal and Gandhiji gave his blessing for the project, eventually, the temple was rebuilt although neither Sardar Patel nor Mahatma Gandhi lived to see the temple inaugurated which was done by the then Hon. President of India, Rajendra Prasad, but their efforts have been bearing fruits for decades now and will do so for the times to come. If you look at it even from an absolutely non-religious or non-sentimental angle, Somnath temple has been providing livelihood to thousands of people of Somnath, lakhs of people visit the temple town each year something that happens solely because of the existence of the temple.
If someone thinks that even that move was “unsecular” then they need to understand the difference between a secular nation and an atheist nation. An atheist nation, for example, China does not recognize any religious faiths(Tibet and Xinjiang are exceptions), we, on the other hand, recognize all types of religions and declare that all of them would be treated equally. It might be a little difficult to understand but this definition does not stop the state from taking decisions that benefit a section of people just because it has a religious angle. If the decisions of the government benefit a particular section not disadvantaging the others then the state can take all such decisions even if they tag along a religious angle with them, for example, until very recently, the Government of India and a lot of state governments provided Haj Subsidy to the citizens who wished to undertake a pilgrimage to Mecca — Medina but could not afford it, this scheme did not affect the secular character of our nation, this scheme fulfilled the dreams of lakhs of citizens of India and thus the government was not at all wrong in providing for such a scheme after all its the responsibility of the state to do whatever possible to fulfil the wishes of its citizens. In the same manner, the government restoring the Somnath Temple too wasn’t an unsecular move.
Now that we know that the Ram Janma Bhoomi dispute was a title suit decided in favour of Ram-Lalla and that Somnath reconstruction (a model that the Ram Mandir too would follow) didn’t affect the secular character of our country, we can infer that the Ram Mandir also does not affect the secular nature of our country as the temple itself was not a problem for anybody the site was the matter of dispute which was resolved by the most competent authority of our country.
What about the money that will be spent in the construction?
The Ram-Mandir is not being built using public money, i.e., the government is not paying for it, the construction is going to be funded by donations from private citizens, thus, there is no scope for any questions being raised on this matter.
Now, there’s also a section of people who think that even if the money is being sourced privately in a country like ours we should not be undertaking such huge ‘non-essential’ projects. For them, I’d say that if we research a little bit, we will find that the temple might be the best thing that could happen to Ayodhya, the so far neglected town will now be a huge center for pilgrimage, an entire ecosystem of businesses will come up around the temple, tourism and hospitality sectors will flourish and employ thousands of people all through the year, practically forever. Massive investments from both public and private sectors will flow in which will completely transform the face of the city. From a business standpoint, the temple will prove to be a hugely successful investment.
Lastly, there’s a section of people who wanted something neutral (a college, school or hospital) to come up on the disputed site, an idea which in itself is not wrong rather a noble one but let us not forget that this is no ordinary site, it’s the equivalent of Vatican or Mecca-Medina for Hindus, a hospital or school can be built anywhere and the temple trust would most likely go on to operate schools or hospitals as many religious trusts across our country do but the temple cannot come up anywhere, the site is believed to be the birthplace of Lord Ram and thus holds significance, none of us would want anything else to come up at Vatican or Mecca, I have nothing to do with both of those places but even I and many many more like me think that it’s good that those sites exist the way they are as everyone has the right to have faith and believe in whatever they want. So we should all respect the sentiments of over a billion people and accord the same respect, recognition and reverence to the Ram Mandir of Ayodhya as is accorded to the Vatican and Mecca.
We must all welcome this development, a centuries-old dispute which led to several ugly riots has been resolved. The dispute came into being because the invaders of India did not believe in peace and co-existence, mosques could have come up anywhere they didn’t have to be built after destroying temples, but none of us living today had anything to do with that, all we can do now is find solutions to our disputes and differences to bring lasting peace to our society and the temple is a step towards that. Now that this dispute has been resolved we can hope to have peace and focus our energy on bringing prosperity.
Long live India.
Follow me Abhishek Jha for more such content.