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Of holy ambitions

Of holy ambitions

As Jharkhand is in the process of the most fundamental exercise of democracy, in an address to a rally in Pakur in the state, Home Minister Amit Shah announced that the "Supreme Court has given its verdict. Now within 4 months, a sky-high temple of Lord Ram will be built in Ayodhya." The assurance of a grand, a sky-high Ram temple to be built in the fabled city within just four months now comes at a time when the country is up in protest against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, primarily on the grounds of the new law being divisive and communal, non-secular, hence unconstitutional. Bringing the historical dispute to a significant halt, it was on November 9 that the Supreme Court had cleared the path for a temple to be built at the disputed plot of land in Ayodhya—the city Hindus consider to be the birthplace of Lord Ram—where the Babri Masjid stood before it was demolished. As per the Supreme Court directive, the Union government has to set up a trust in 3 months for the construction of Ram temple at the said site. Just two days after the verdict, the Home Ministry swung into action for the setting up of the trust which will monitor the construction of the temple. The matter of Ram temple holds justifiable relevance for the people of the region whose part of culture and cultural identity Ram is, but it remains questionable for as long as the issue persists, the relevance of this article of faith at a scale as great as the national level—in a nation that practices a diversity of faiths amid multiplicity of deities. Moreover, Jharkhand, carved out of Bihar for being distinct in its demographic composition among other differences, is a place of tribals and of indigenous societies and practices that need due attention to their native issues. Addressing their core concerns would make better grounds for genuine popularity in stead of homogenising the heterogenous realities with the colours of a single faith which all do not subscribe to. Added to that, selling the idea of Ram in such a place is not only of doubtful relevance but also amounts to an act of possible insult of faith by taking Ram to the people who have little to do with it. The notion of furthering Hindutva and communal agenda continues to be a condemnable issue.

Ram Janmabhoomi is the name for the site that is hypothesised to be the birthplace of Ram who is believed to be the seventh avatar of the Hindu deity Vishnu. As per the epic Ramayana, the location of Rama's birthplace is on the banks of the Sarayu river in a city called Ayodhya. Whether or not this place is exactly the same as modern day Ayodhya is left to faith, not history. And in seeking takers of faith in places beyond the said city, an election rally in Jharkhand also saw Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath urging the families present there to donate Rs 11 along with one brick for the construction of the Ram Temple in Ayodhya, as he appealed to the public to cast their vote in favor of BJP. He said that "I come from the state which gave Lord Ram and his system of governance, called Ram Rajya, a system where policies are made keeping in mind the villages, poor, youth, women and every section of the society. The same work is being done by Prime Minister Narendra Modi." The interesting aspect of linking an object of faith with the subject of governance might be a clever move before a gullible audience but a matter of deeper concern is propagating the notion of a 'Rashtra Mandir' while emphasising the importance of building a temple at the supposed birthplace of Ram in Ayodhya. The Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister said in Jharkhand that, "The Ram Mandir will not be just any other temple. It will be a national temple that will be built at the birthplace of Lord Ram. It will be the soul of India. This temple will show the world the strength of India's democracy and the judiciary. The path of construction of Lord Ram's temple in Ayodhya has been paved under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi". He went on to say that "It was a state where no one was discriminated against. Connecting the poor with welfare schemes of the government and guaranteeing security is also Ram Rajya." Citing the notion of "Ram Rajya" as a true example of good governance, the greater proportion of emphasis in on Ram; had the concern for Rajya been a priority, Ram would not have been so prominent outside of people's homes and temples. Governance id the duty of the state and rendering adding communal colours to this allegiance to democracy is not what is expected of a modern, welfare-oriented government.

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