Ram-Setu is a mythical bridge which Lord Ram built to cross over to SriLanka. some of the Hindu organisations believe that this bridge is the same as the present bridge that connects India and SriLanka. More on the bridge here. Evidently, the bridge has a lot of religious significance for both Hindu and Islamic religions.
The political controversy surrounding the bridge is this: Congress has taken up a project to demolish a part of the Adams Bridge for economic benifit. The BJP feels that the bridge is a sign of Hindutva and that the anti-hindu, pro-minority, Congress Govt should not allow the bridge to be demolished.
Now, the various scientific organsiations have only been able to conclude that there is no evidence to suggest that the bridge is man-made. This in itself is inconclusive and thus cannot be used as an evidence to necessarrily conclude the baselessness of the Ram-Setu being the bridge Ram used to cross over to Lanka.
The economic advantage of demolishing the bridge is that a number of large vessels which have to reach the east coast of India travel along routes that circumscribe Sri Lanka (approx: shown by the red line) and effectively travel 400 odd extra kilometers. Demolishing the bridge will allow these ships to travel a shorter route (black line).
The Ram-Sethu is more than just another controversy. For some, it is a matter of religion a symbol of their Gods existence for others a simple hindrance in economic development effectively it is a debate of myth or belief over religion. Now starts the accusation game of the politicians with each party blaming the other of cheating the public, people calling DMK leader Dravidian godless man etc…
For most educated people it boils down to: if we allow such myths to hamper the decision making of our country where do we stop. The debate is not just about Ram-Sethu. It is a more important debate of what is acceptable in the society as development at the cost of emotions and what all is not.
To elaborate on this:
1.) If a group of 50 individuals believe that all construction work in the country should cease immidiately because they belive the Earth is their mother and that constructiion work hurt their mother and therefore human sentiments. Should all the work actually be stopped?
We will very happily term that group of people as retards and happily ignore them.
2.) Instead, if a major oilfield is discovered underneath a small temple / mosque. Is it right for the government to destroy / displace the monument?
Most of us would agree that it is acceptable because not many people believe in the temple anyway and also the economic benefit that will be gained for so many other people are massive therefore its agreeable.
3.) Alternatively, if a small oilfield (Assume the oilfield to be economically viable) is discovered under a place of relatively more importance, will it still be as OK to destroy / displace the monument for the oilfield?
4.) In an extreme situation, if the temple is as impotant as say the Tirupati temple or Lal Mandir or Haji Ali then?
A lot of people believe or have written or said, in reference to Ram-Sethu, that orthodox myth(s) cannot and should not decide the economic policies of a country and therefore should not be allowed to interfere in such an important matter. In principle I agree that development of a country should not be hindered by myth(s). But, all the same, we cannot trample over the emotions and beliefs of thousands of people just for economic benefit. Isn’t this what democracy is all about?
Another politician-gentleman on “We-the-People” smugly pointed out that industrial growth around the Taj-Mahal had been stopped by a Supreme Court ruling, responding to a PIL, and that this is similiar to the Ram-Sethu bridge controversy. I would like to point out that the two cases are starkly different. This is so, because
1.) Taj-Mahal is not a religious symbol, instead it is a symbol of Indian heritage and architectural magnificence
2.) Taj-Mahal is in itself an industry; it generates employment and revenue for the nation
Coming back to the question: should Ram-Sethu be destroyed or not?
Just because Lord Ram might have built the bridge should we not save it?
Can we just destroy a small column of the 40 km bridge?
I dont know. It is tough to appreciate the logic/belief of the believers. Till I get to know their exact stand this is as much as I can say.
P.S:- I am looking for the video of the "We the people episode". Incase you have it please let me know.