Friday, 1 October 2010

The day after

Its the morning of 1st October 2010. About sixteen hours have passed since the Allahabad High Court passed its judgement on the Babri Masjid issue. Nothing extraordinary has happened in the sixteen hours or so between then and now.

First the judgement: in the opinion of this writer, its one of the most intelligent judgements in perhaps the entire history of the Indian judiciary. Dividing the disputed land into three equal halves between the three parties to the litigation and recognising the land on which the masjid once stood as the birthplace of Shri Ram was a stroke of genius, given the prevailing sentiment here. Most Hindus were convinced that the decision would go in favour of the Waqf Board. In one swoop, Hindu sentiment has been appeased while permitting the Sunni Waqf Board to stake claim to a third of the land in question. Its hard to think of too many historic parellels to such a successful effort at locating the mid-path.

Secondly, its the public reaction that deserves praise. Nothing untoward has happened in the hours since then. Not a shot has been fired, not a single glass shattered, not a single vehicle set afire and far more importantly, not a single person has been physically hurt. That a historic judgement like this which everyone knew had the potential to set the country ablaze, has just passed with no incident whatsoever is perhaps a sign of how far India has moved since those insane days of '92, when hundreds were killed and several hundred terribly injured and thousands left with psychological scars from the mind numbing violence inflicted by mad, unthinking men on people who were totally unconnected with the events at Ayodhya save the fact that they belonged to one of the two communities involved.

Back then in 1992, India has only just opened its economy. Growth was slow, jobs were hard to come by and India was only just emerging out of the shadows of decades of stagnation and backwardness. Is it unreasonable to argue that the India of 2010 provides far better employment opportunities to its youth? Very possibly today's youth have far better avenues for releasing their energies as compared to their predecessors of '92. It could also be possible that after the mindless bloodbath of '92, Indians have become wiser. Perhaps that violence has created an abhorrence for further bloodshed, perhaps the people of India have not the stomach for a second reckoning.

Whatever the reason, the country has (so far) greeted the decision with equinanimity. Everywhere, the general call is for peace. Hopefully India has finally come to the point where food, jobs and infrastructure have come to assume for greater importance for its citizens that the construction of a temple or a mosque. We will soon know whether this writer is rejoicing prematurely or whether India has truly matured as a country.

If all goes well, we the people of India can pat ourselves on our backs for the splendid progress we have made in the last 18 years. We have taken a decisive step towards building the India of tomorrow, towards building a nation much better than the one in which we grew up, a country that provides a far greater life to our children than the one it provided us. God willing, we can finally say that we have exorcised the ghosts of '92.

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