It's well said that for a nation to be futuristic, it's historic and present development needs to go hand in hand.
Lately, the controversy about the ancient Ram Setu, once on the verge of being demolished, now to be declared as the national monument, has grabbed the headlines. Several voices have been raised in favor of this.
In an exclusive interview, Minister Prahlad Patel said, “There is a demand now to declare Ram Setu a national heritage monument".
Does Ram Setu meet the criteria to be declared as a national monument?
Let's dive deep into its history and see how strong it's roots are for this claim.
Every coin has two sides and so does this controversy.
Let's first get acquainted with the mythological aspect.
According to the epic Ramanayan and beliefs of Hinduism, Lord Ram is said to have constructed this setu with the help of numerous monkeys in order to reach Sri Lanka and rescue his wife from the clutches of demon king Ravana. It comprises limestone shoals & is found in Palk Strait region. The Ram Setu or Adam's Bridge is located between Rameshwaram (South India) and Mannar Island (Sri Lanka) and has been an ideal spot for tourists and researchers.
Now secondly, let's have a look at the political aspect.
The controversy around the Ram Setu began in the last decade when the UPA government proposed an affidavit to Supreme Court to dredge down this setu for the Sethusamudram Shipping Canal Project which aimed at shortening the waterways by building a 83-km-long deep water channel linking Mannar with Palk Strait. This affidavit submitted by Archaeological Survey of India(ASI) in Supreme Court said beliefs about setu are fictional and there is no scientific evidence to prove it.
In an interim decision of 2007, the court permitted the dredging of Ram Setu, thus giving a nod to the Sethusamudram project.
This created a furore with the BJP opposing the Congress-led UPA government's stand on Setu by terming the centre's affidavit as "blasphemous and arrogant".
BJP leader Subramanian Swamy even filed a PIL against the shipping channel project and sought assurance for not touching the Ram Setu.
Thus, the dredging was put on hold by the Supreme Court.
Meanwhile, several developments took place and numerous pieces of evidence popped out from different sources justifying the Ram Setu. This provoked many to develop contrasting views and to ponder upon what was written in the affidavit.
The Geological Survey of India (GSI) conducted various studies under "Project Rameswaram", by carbon-dating corals and found that Rameswaram Island evolved 125,000 years ago.
In 2017, Discovery Science Channel aired a show by the name -
‘Ancient Land Bridge’, in which it was claimed that the Ram Setu structure was not natural but man-made. The US’s Science Channel did so by giving reference to images from NASA satellites and quoting studies by scientists from eminent Universities.
One of the tweets by them stated :-
“Are the ancient Hindu myths of a land bridge connecting India and Sri Lanka true? Scientific analysis suggests they are ".
In 2018, After a prolonged litigation, the present government upheld a decision of not damaging the Ram Setu in the "interest of the nation ''.
It is indeed one of the historically important landmark sites in our country. A nation cannot dream of becoming a superpower without protecting the traces of its historical and mythological pioneers and by declaring it as our National Monument, and later on demanding for a World Heritage Site, India can simply add one more feather to its wings.
This article has been written by Kartik Bajare for The Paradigm
See you next time…