The Dravid-ian Kazhagam leader, K. Veeramani, has recently threatened to burn the Ramayana in a public protest against ?Aryan Supremacy?. Hence, his idiom is outdated. ?Aryan? incidentally is a word popularised by Adolf Hitler, which word has no equivalent in Sanskrit vocabulary. The closest is the word ?arya?, which is no racial connotation. The Tamil equivalent of ?arya? is ?aiya?. The linguistic root of the word is thus the same-meaning a cultured or noble person, and not a race.
Veeramani'searlier adulation of Ravana in his anti-Brahmin tirade had to come to an embarrassing end because he discovered that the Ravana was actually a Brahmin[?Aryan?] scholar of the Sama Veda who had meditated in Kailash to get a boon.
The Aryan-Dravidian racial divide theory, is a mischievous construct of the British Imperialists and their tutees like Romilla Thapar. Modern research and DNA analysis have now decisively debunked any such racial dichotomy in the Indian profile of ancestry. Time has come therefore to purge the theory from text books.
The Dravida Movement which includes DMK, MDMK, PMK, and DK parties, has turned it'sire on Bhagwan Shri Ram, the King of Ayodhya, and want the Rama Sethu to be demolished because it is a symbol of ?North Indian? domination. Also, the demolition would facilitate the LTTE brigand boats to move quicker from Tuticorin to Chennai on the Palk Strait, and on international waters. At present, the Rama Sethu stands in the way. Hence their vociferous support for the Sethu Samundram Ship Canal Project [SSCP]. Hence the project in the present form must resolutely opposed.
To begin with, Shri Rama really emerged in national perception as a Maryada Purushottam divinity as distinct from a young dutiful prince of Ayodhya only after his sojourn to South India. In her S.C.Misra Memorial Lecture, Professor Suvira Jaiswal [www.thehindu.com/2007/03/12/stories], who has become the President of the Indian History Congress recently, states that King Rama of Ayodhya was transformed into Bhagwan Shri Rama of the whole nation, i.e., as a re-incarnation of Vishnu because of the Tamil Vaishnava saints, Alwars who sang praises of the qualities of Shri Rama. She also states that Chola and Pandya Kings despite being Shaivites, built the first temples for Rama as a deity. Thus, while Raja Ram may be regarded as a ?northerner? from Ayodhya by the DK, nevertheless Bhagwan Shri Rama as a divine incarnation is the revelation of Tamil saints to the Hindu religion nationally. Shri Rama is a symbol of our nation oneness. Alwars and Nayanmar saints also propagated what the Dravidian Movement needs to learn fast: God is universally accessible, and grants salvation irrespective of caste to all those who worship him with complete devotion. God is not pro-any caste or where one is born. If such is the faith, who is the government to question it? As the Punjab&Haryana High Court division bench opined in 1993 in the Brahmasaravor case, even a stone in an ancient national monument if the people have faith in it.
While the Hindu scriptures have given vivid and moving description of the construction of the Rama Sethu, it'sexistence has now been confirmed by two scientific sources. In the first, the present configuration of the Rama Sethu has been photographed by US National Aeronautics and Space Agency [NASA] by their satellites, and colour photos of the same published in these columns earlier. These photos establish the Sethu'sexistence as a chain of shoal stones. The Department of Earth Science, of the government of India have in a report to the President of India have stated that shoal stones placement make out that they were ?deliberately placed there?. That is, as if it was constructed in the manner described in the Valmiki, Kamban, and Tulsidas, saints who authored the Ramayana Epic. NASA also establishes the age of the shoal stone formation as 1, 750,000 years ago. The bridge formation by placing these stones one by one, according to the Earth Science Department is not less than 9000 years.
Such independent corroboration therefore cannot be dismissed as mere coincidence and not worthy of notice as the DMK nominee in the Union Ministry of Shipping Shri T.R. Baalu has been saying. At the very minimum it requires a full inquiry as to whether or not the said Rama Sethu is a Hindu heritage site. Millions believe it to be so, and hence the government cannot take a narrow cynical view of such faith.
The objective of the Rs. 2427 crore SSCP nevertheless could be a worthy one, and for the national good. At present cargo and passenger ships have to go around the island of Sri Lanka to reach Tuticorin from Chennai or vice versa. If SSCP is implemented, the present sailing time on this route would be reduced up to 36 hours because of a shorter distance of up to 424 nautical miles. Cost saving of nearly Rs.1000 crores annually could thereby be effected, making the project cost-effective and viable financially. But the cost saved is all that much that Rama Sethu has to be demolished. Hence, if Shri Rama Sethu can be preserved and the SSCP implemented, no one will object. This is precisely the stand of K.T. Thomas, retired Judge of the Supreme Court who opined recently that ?It is my definite opinion that Rama Sethu must not be broken?. Another retired Judge of the Supreme Court, Krishna Iyer wrote to the PM calling the SSCP ?an action hostile to the nation and its swaraj?.
That is, while no rational opinion is against the project per se what is however sought is a feasible amendment of the SSCP, to avoid vandalising the Rama Sethu and destructing it, thereby hurting the religious sentiment of millions of Hindus. The objective of SSCP can be achieved by digging through the 15 kilometer mainland stretch between Pamban and Dhanushkodi, adjacent to the Rama Sethu thereby leaving hoary Sethu intact. This approach of seeking of an alternative was followed by the Delhi Metro when it'sunderground route digging came too close to the Qutub Minar.
Moreover, retention of the Rama Sethu as it is, will ensure as it did in the past the minimisation of the damage from the Tsunami disaster when the spread of the massive displacement of sea water caused plate tectonic earthquake in Aceh reached the shores of India. The Rama sethu acted as a wave and speed-breaker, thus saving enormous number of lives and damage to property.
I would therefore suggest that the SSCP be put on hold, and the alternative canal route be researched by a committee of experts and an amended project report be prepared. This is incidentally the opinion of a very wise Sub-Judge Mohammed Asif of the Ramanathapuram Subordinate Court. On February 23, 2007 while ruling on a petition challenging the SSCP he stated: ?Imperatives of development and our commitment to protect heritage are two ends. A careful, intelligent balance should be struck between the two. Final opinion could be pronounced on issues raised by the petitioners only after subjecting their documents to thorough scrutiny with opinion of experts in the field?.
The President of India Dr. Abdul Kalam, also from Ramanathapuram, should heed the sage advice of the Sub-Judge, and thus forward the petition of 5 million signatures submitted to him on September 27, 2006 by the Hindu Munnani to the Supreme Court, and seek an opinion under Article 143 of the Constitution on the economics, environment and archeology of the project, and for protecting the Rama Setu. The Apex Court then could set up a committee of experts to help form an opinion of the Court. That is the most amicable way to resolve the issue.
The Rama Sethu is a living miracle, and therefore the Government of India ought to approach the UNESCO to get it declared as the 28th World Heritage Site. The Tourism Ministry should also develop the area to vest it with the essential infrastructure so that pilgrims can come from far and wide.