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    Rabble Rousing Random Ramblings by S Jagadish is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License.

    July 30, 2008

    Sethusamudram project used by Indian government to confuse everyone!

    Emboldened after winning the vote of confidence last week, the Government of India is pursuing the Sethusamudram project in the Gulf of Mannar and the Palk Strait.

    The project has been making headlines for a long time. Followers of Hinduism insist that the bridge in the Palk Strait is the bridge that the Vanara army built to help Rama cross the sea into Ravana's Lanka. Economists wonder if the Sethusamudram Shipping Canal Project is economically viable. Environmentalists fear that the Gulf of Mannar Marine National Park will be destroyed.

    My opinion is that the cost-benefit analysis should be done only on the basis of the economic, social and environmental impact of the change. Whether Rama existed or not shouldn't matter. Whether monkeys built the bridge or if he hired engineers from the IITs (Ikshwaku Institute of Technology) to construct the bridge should not matter either.

    The Government of India yesterday argued in the Supreme Court that Rama destroyed the bridge while returning from Lanka to help make shipping easier. Oddly enough, it also argues that the bridge was not man-made.

    The study using satellite data concludes that Adam’s Bridge is not man-made in nature but comprises 103 small patch reefs lying in a linear pattern with reef crest, sand cays and intermittent deep channels. The linearity of the bridge suggests an old shoreline from where coral reef evolved.
    Either the bridge was man-made or it was not. If it was man-made (at Rama's behest) and destroyed (by Rama), then other versions of the Ramayana should also be referring to this destruction. Is the Kamban version of the Ramayana being chosen since the project is the DMK's brainwave?

    Last year, the Archaeological Survey of India filed an affidavit, that was subsequently withdrawn questioning the existence of Rama. Then, it questioned various petitioners' referencing the Valmiki & Tulsidas versions of the Ramayana and said
    The petitioners [Subramanian Swamy and others] while seeking relief [not to damage Ramar Sethu] have primarily relied upon the contents of the Valmiki Ramayana, the Ramcharitmanas by Tulasidas and other mythological texts, which admittedly form an important part of ancient Indian literature, but which cannot be said to be [a] historical record to incontrovertibly prove the existence of the characters or the occurrence of the events depicted therein.
    It really is funny, isn't it?! Last year, the government questioned the way those opposed to the project were relying on some versions of the Ramayana and emphatically said that these could not be said to be historical records to conclusively prove the existence of the characters or the occurence of the events. Yet, one year later, the government relies on a different version of the Ramayana to buttress its claim that Rama destroyed the bridge! So now, they're relying on a poem/epic/story written about a fictional character to prove that a bridge that he allegedly got constructed was destroyed by him!

    They really need to get sure about whether Rama existed or not. If he existed, then they need to consult multiple versions of the Ramayana to infer if the bridge was destroyed by him/on his orders. If he did not exist, then the bridge is a natural creation which has been around for a very long time. The very fact that it is a long-standing geological creation should be reason enough to preserve it. So it should not be destroyed.

    At the end of the day, the project should use the route that least disturbs the ecology and generates the most bang for the buck!

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