Saturday, October 2, 2010

Sense and Sensibility

I had always thought that there are some questions whose answers are likely to be: hey, hey hey. You know questions such as 'Did Adam have a navel?' or 'Was Lord Ram born under the central dome of what was once the Babri Masjid?' Ever since Nietzsche's famous proclamation 'there are no facts only interpretations' it has become increasingly more difficult to come to a single, unalloyed, unambiguous point of view. Law is after all a verbal discipline.

When the country, paralyzed with bated breath, on the afternoon of the 30th of September, switched channels to catch the first reports of the Ayodhya title suit judgment, I went to play a round of golf. By getting the news at the dot of 4p.m. I could not have altered the course of India's history. And nobody invited me to the television studios for my opinion. I am told that all those who's opinions truly matter in India are located in metros. When I returned home and gathered the different strands that constituted the larger picture, my response was one of disbelief. The setting was Shakespearean with the foregrounding of the numeral three. And out of the cauldron emerged a pronouncement that endorsed a three-way division of the land under dispute. I know little about law although many among my friends and family have attained positions of eminence in that field. But the one thing that I do know is that a decision in a title suit would mean deciding to whom a piece of land under dispute belongs by way of legitimate title, not the parties that may be given the land by a conciliatory verdict. I had always thought that the practice of law depended on the material facts and evidence that is conclusively put forth within the ambit of public legal procedures rather than private spiritual matters. But this judgment seems to have given a new dimension to jurisprudence.

When the Supreme Court dismissed the petition for deferment of the verdict, it established the superiority of constitutional democracy over contracted populism. Sadly, Thursday's decision partially undid those gains. To live in a modern, resurgent India does not mean to resurrect the ghosts from the past but to bury them and move on. To those that are religious, please build as many places of worship on the places you own directly, but please stay out of the public spaces. These are meant for the vibrant, energetic youth of our country: our hope for the future. History, Baudrillard says is often the source of humankind's problems rather than its site. Let us use history to understand our present and transform our future. And if we must be spiritual, then remember the lines of Harivansh Rai Bacchan and do the needful. That order could also have been passed.


  1. Theverdict reminds me of Kamleshwar's 'kitne Pakistan'. We learnt to copy the British to perfection (language ..not the sensibility) and now their idea of 'divide and rule' and it seems that the three member team (the magic no. 3) thought it mist prudent to divide things into three! What an irony! Sadly we don't use History to learn from the past but use it to repeat the errors of the past!

  2. "the country paralyzed with bated breath..."? I am sorry sir the part of the country I live in was hardly bothered about the whole issue. Our major concern was as follows:
    1. college holiday
    2. loss of a day's income
    3. a day's delay in many things
    and many such non historical affairs. Otherwise whether a temple, a mosque ,a pub or a shopping mall what difference does it make to a really common citizen of our country?