Saturday, May 31, 2008

Rama Setu and attacks on Hindu identity – Dr. Subramanian Swamy

Rama Setu and attacks on Hindu identity – Dr. Subramanian Swamy

Sunday, 01 June, 2008 , 03:33 PM
Janata Party leader Subramanian Swamy has written to Prime Minister exposing the ‘Himalayan fraud and monumental folly of Sethusamudram project’.

In the letter a copy of which was released to the press, Swamy had said,’I hope and pray that by now you have been briefed on the proceedings of the Supreme Court in various hearings held in the first week of May.

The Supreme Court has reiterated two directions which the Madras High Court had earlier given on my writ petition heard on 18 June and 19 June 2007 (subsequently your government hastily got the case transferred to the Supreme Court and therefore the May hearings of the Apex Court were in the nature of continuation of those hearings).

‘Essentially the said directions require your government to go back to the drawing board and re-work the Sethusamudram Channel Project (SSCP).’‘During the course of my arguments before the Supreme Court, I had firmly established with records and citations of past judgments of the Apex Court that the implementation of the SSCP would constitute criminal and civil illegalities.

Even you have committed a civil illegality when you inaugurated the project on 2 July, 2005 despite having failed to obtain the mandatory NOC from the Tamilnadu Pollution Control Board as required under the environmental law.

There was also an illegality committed in failing to obtain an NOC from the Coast Guard and the Maritime Board. Moreover your government committed a civil illegality by failing to honour the UN Law of the Sea (1968), and associated Bio-diversity Convention by failing to conduct a joint inspection with the government of Sri Lanka on environmental viability of the SSCP.

I am sure that if you send for Fali Nariman who is your main senior counsel in the case, he will apprise you of the details.’‘I, therefore, request you, out of personal regard for you and our long past happy friendship that you desist from any further pursuit of this illegal, ill-advised and economically disastrous SSCP and boldly take the steps to declare unilaterally that the Rama Setu is an ancient monument, a national pride, and a world heritage.

As far as SSCP is concerned, it may be re-cast by converting Tuticorin into an international container port and an international airport and connect it by a coastal railway- cum- express highway to Kolkata originating at the port.

This would be economically more profitable and consistent with the national security considerations.’Earlier this month, on 5 May, Swamy had sent a letter to the Prime Minister seeking his permission for the prosecution of T R Baalu, Union Shipping Minister, under the Prevention of Corruption Act. Swamy wrote as follows to the Prime Minister:

‘ This is first a reminder of my letter dated 1 February, 2008 seeking your sanction under the Prevention of Corruption Act to prosecute your Minister of Shipping.

Since that letter, charges of corruption against Baalu have proliferated galore in the country. Enclosed is a letter from Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) holding the chairman of the Chennai Port Trust, which Trust is administratively under the said Minister, of gross impropriety.

Yet your government have accepted the Financial Officer of the Chennai Port Trust C N Rao as the new chairman of Tuticorin Port Trust which Trust is the nodal body for the Sethusamdrum Ship Channel Project.

Kindly therefore withdraw the nomination forthwith and please expedite the grant of sanction.’No one can dispute the fact that right from the beginning, Sethusamudram Canal Project (SSCP) has been planned, organised and launched as a commercial asset for a few Cabinet Ministers in the UPA government and some of their counterparts in Tamilnadu.

According to expert, unbiased technical and scientific opinion in India and abroad, SSCP is a scientifically inconsistent, technologically non-feasible project at the present time.

The cogent arguments presented by some tsunami specialists and earth scientists of international stature have not been considered or answered in open-transparent forums by the leading proponents of the project.

Many of the vital questions raised by Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) in March 2005 were bypassed in a subterranean manner by imaginative, covert, sly and stealthy manoeuvres and operations.

What is amazing is that the top brass of the Indian Navy has remained silent or neutral on the SSCP and the brazen promoters of the SSCP — mean the firmly entrenched vested interests involved only in a private loot under the garb of public interest —— have become the naval strategists of Palk Bay!

Against this background it should be clear that there has been an organised conspiracy of firmly entrenched vested interests - the PMO, the Union Ministry of Shipping and Transport and the Tuticorin Port Trust ( TPT)-to ignore the best technical advice given by International experts about the wholly avoidable dangers and disasters of the SSCP in its present shape.

The words of the American judge Justice Cardozo are relevant in this context: ‘Means unlawful in their inception do not become lawful by relation when suspicion ripens into discovery’.

Swamy and other senior Counsels have convincingly argued and proved in the Supreme Court of India that there has been a blatant violation of the DUE PROCESS OF LAW right from the inception of the SSCP.

There is no table of weights and measures for ascertaining or determining what constitutes the due process. What is due process of law depends on circumstances.

It varies with the subject matter and necessities of the situation. Due process of law requires that the proceedings shall be fair, but fairness is a relative, not an absolute concept.

It is fairness with reference with particular conditions or particular results. Whichever way one looks at it, there has been a total violation of the DUE PROCESS by the government of India in according sanction for the SSCP.

That is why I have been asserting with unassailable facts and figures ever since May 2005 that the SSCP is a ‘Monument of fraud and folly.’

It is reliably understood that about four days ago, the Prime Minister directed Baalu to submit his letter of resignation as Union Shipping Minister, having regard to the serious corruption charges raised against him by Subramanian Swamy. According to sources, AICC leader Sonia Gandhi informally overruled Manmohan to ensure the temporary survival of Baalu.

----- Forwarded Message ----
From: Venkat
To: Sanatana Dharma Group
Sent: Saturday, May 31, 2008 6:51:38 PM
Subject: [SDF] Ram Sethu - Watch the latest video

Rama Sethu is a national monument that should be preserved. A large number of dedicated Hindus took up this cause to see that Rama Sethu is protected, preserved and promoted. The more people get involved more awareness. More awareness among Hindus, more attention paid by the government. The only recourse Hindus is to work together and support all the efforts to see that the Rama Sethu project is stopped by the Supreme Court.
Dr, Subramanain Swamy has done a yeoman service to this cause literally stopping the destruction of Rama Sethu.
1) Please read the summary of his speech given in New Jersey during a Book release ceremony the Memorial Day weekend.
2) Also watch his inspiring speech on Youtube.
SDF is interested in preserving and protecting Hindu values, Hindu Temples, and Hindu monuments so that Hindu pluralistic philosophy is cherished and defended.


Sanatana Dharma Foundation

(Sent by Sunanda & Satya Dosparthi)

Below is a video link of brilliant talk on Rama Sethu and its relevance to the what is happening to Hinduism, delivered by Dr. Subramanian Swamy during his recent visit to US when he released his book on Rama Sethu.
Every Indian must watch this. For those who may not know, it is Dr. Swamy's brilliant arguments in Supreme Court that blocked destruction of Rama Sethu.

Listen to how Dr. Swamy, who is an economist and not a lawyer, relate how he argued for 8 hours at a stretch with Supreme Court justices and successfully convinced them to stop destruction of Rama Sethu. Listen to why he took up this case because he clearly saw it as another example of undermining Hindu society. Hear about the gross corruption involved, total lack of values and simple decency in the leaders of current government. com/watch? v=3tZOUw5- P0U&feature=PlayList&p=13C6CC433448906C&index=0&playnext=1
(Note: This is link to play list and all the parts will be automatically played)
Rama Sethu book can be ordered from Kanchi Kamakoti Seva Foundation at 908-244-3258.


Synopsis of the lecture
(High level summary)

Dr. Swamy started with introductory remarks to show Rama Sethu matter in perspective. He got interested in the problems Hindu Society is facing after Kanchi Sankaracharya was arrested on foisted charges and jailed like a common criminal, for which Supreme Court of India found no prima facie charges. It brought his attention to the forces that are working to undermine Hindu Society by making them feel impotent and inferior. As he looked around, he found the same way the Hindu society targeted in several areas. Whether it is the terrorism where Hindus and Hindu temples are targeted and claimed the number of lives next to Iraq in last 4 years, large scale religious conversions of Hindus, rubbishing of Hinduism in history books in India,

He explains how Hindus who constitute large percentage can be under sieze. He gave example how numbers do not matter, because thousands of goats can be made to run for life by one tiger. Strength or capacity does not matter, because a thin whip master in circus can make powerful lions obey him. The problem he says is lack of Hindu mindset. What is happening today is mental subversion, unlike physical brutalities of Islamic invasions of the past. He says he took up Rama Sethu because it is just another example of the way Hindu society is being targeted in subtle psychological way.

What does he mean by Hindu Mind set? He goes on, it is not about doing Pujas or celebrating Diwali only. It is the corporate psychology that is needed. When 500,000 Hindus were driven out Kashmir by Islamic terrorists and living in squalid camps since 1989, we need to feel annoyed, upset and take action. We worry about one Masjid broken, every day Hindu temples are broken in Kashmir and outside India like Malayasia. When Hindus and Hindu temples are targeted by terrorists, we need to stand up against it.

What are forces against Hinduism? He gave examples of Christian fundamentalist Pat Robertson openly declaring that he would convert 100 millions to Christianity. Money does not matter. He gave example of christian CM of Andhra Pradesh YSR. As for Islam, he says they are more clearer than Christian fundamentalists in their objective. He explained how the Islamic scriptures (Koran, Sira and Hadith) drive the behavior of Islamists and how Islam sanctions terrorism. He showed it is not just in Kashmir where Hindus are targeted, it is happening in district level in India. He detailed how in every single Panchayat in Tamilnadu (40 of them) where Muslims gained majority, they stopped providing civic services such as water, school, garbage cleanup to Hindus for last 10 years with notices in Urdu that they need to convert to get those services. Failing which, they destroyed their agriculture by directing the water from their tanneries into their fields. He related how he successfully fought this in High Court of Tamilnadu that ordered Governor to take action. He explained the concepts of Dar-Ul-Harab and Dar-Ul-Islam, where this mentality comes from.

However, he does not blame Islam or Christian fundamentalists. He says they are clear in their mind what they want to do and they go about doing it. But it is Hindu who are confused about what he(or she) is and what to do. That confusion he was trying to remove by placing the whole conspiracy behind destruction of Rama Sethu.
Having given this perspective he goes about the Rama Sethu's significance in our history. He detailed how there were committees since 1860, nine of them before independence and six after the independence and not a single committee ever recommended the route that destroys Rama Sethu. How the current Government took on its own to destroy at the behest of Karunanidhi and his chela Baalu. Why so many alternative routes not considered and why every clearance required by law was simply ignored? Why the precedent where Governments in India always changed project plans in order not to hurt religious sentiments would not be followed in finding alternative to the proposed route that would hurt the sentiments of one billion Hindus (e.g, Government in 2001 rerouted Delhi Metro at cost of 500 crores and delay of 1 year, because of simple complaint from a Muslim NGO that the Metro route can cause cracks to three graves near Qutub Minar)? Why did the Government ignore 35 Lakhs verifiable signatures requesting not to destroy Rama Sethu and the protest of 5 lakh people? The same Government that will bend backwards for even slightest dissent from their vote banks, has decidedly chosen the path of breaking the back of Hindu society.

He showed with detailed calculations how it is the greatest economic disaster and the only beneficiaries are TR Baalu who owns the shipping company with ships of the size that can go thro' the proposed route thro' Rama Sethu and his son who has company that needs to clear the sand that will be thrown by sea into the dredged area every year, worth multiple crores.

Listen to the talk to become aware of the extent of corruption, debasement of our current political leaders and the conspiracy going on to destroy Hinduism from India. Listen to how he brilliantly argued with justices with wit and humor and made the defense counsel eat their words. Hear the options he has to offer to revive Hindu society and create a stronger India.

Dr. Swamy's book on Rama Sethu also provides all the details. Rama Sethu book can be ordered from Kanchi Kamakoti Seva Foundation at 908-244-3258.


Sanatana Dharma Foundation

Monday, May 26, 2008

Save Rama Setu; scrap Setu project -- Sandhya Jain

Save Rama Setu; scrap Setu project – Sandhya Jain
Saving the mangroves
Sandhya Jain (Pioneer, May 27, 2008)

India's eastern coastline and regions east of India have been suffering serious environmental degradation without any sincere efforts at mitigation. The Orissa super-cyclone of 1999 smashed through huge tracts of land, taking countless lives and wrecking incalculable damage to crops, cattle and property. The 13 coastal districts along Tamil Nadu's 255-km long coastline are regularly exposed to cyclonic fury, and the terrifying tsunami of 2004 is still fresh in public memory.

Summer 2008 has been kind to India; Hurricane Nargis, which shattered the lives of untold thousands in Myanmar, has spared this land; it could so easily have been otherwise. A grim earthquake has devastated China, raising the toll of human tragedy manifold. Delhi's unseasonal rains have also taken some lives, and the weather has been inexplicable enough for experts to seriously consider it a consequence of global warming and environmental degradation.

Resurrecting the mangroves, now almost extinct in our part of the world, can even now end this continuing legacy of human misery, this horrible haemorrhaging of the earth itself. Mangroves, literally dense forests on the shore, tolerate the salinity of sea water and protect inland water sources and soil from salinity and erosion; above all, they mitigate the impact of cyclonic winds. There is no more ecologically sensitive and cost-effective measure of saving the seacoast and continental shelf than mangroves; yet, we have seen least action in this direction.

Given the pulsating environmental instability in our region, it is astonishing a debate still persists regarding the desirability of the Rs 2,400 crore white elephant called the Sethusamudram Shipping Canal Project (SSCP). The plan to dredge a 300-metre wide channel through the land-link between India and Sri Lanka, to reduce the distance between the western and eastern coast ports, is opposed by environmentalists, economists and security analysts. Colombo has raised an alarm fearing human intervention on Ram Setu could threaten its very existence in the event of another tsunami, already predicted by Nature magazine (December 2007).

The historical-civilisational significance of Ram Setu is obvious. Sinhala scholar Prof Tissa Kariyawasam, former dean of the University of Jayawardenapura, Sri Lanka, says most probably Emperor Ashoka's son Mahendra and daughter Sanghamitra came to the island by walking across the Ram Setu. It symbolises the establishment and protection of dharma; the Skanda Purana prescribes worship of the Ram Setu and the Shivalinga installed in its middle with appropriate mantras. It is a popular place for offerings to pitrs (ancestors).

The proposal to hack a channel was publicly welcomed by the LTTE in Sri Lanka and Tamil politician Vaiko. The Indian Navy and Coast Guard warned of the possibility of facilitating militant groups! Capt H Balakrishnan (retd) of Chennai made an in-depth study of the SSCP's viability, particularly the claim that it would save ships nearly 424 nautical miles (780 km) and about 30 hours of sailing time, with commensurate savings in fuel, thereby becoming self-sustaining over time. An estimated 3,055 vessels were projected to use the canal annually.

But its economic viability alone is questionable from a study of the Information Memorandum of the UTI Bank (now Axis Bank), wherein dredging costs alone are pegged at Rs 200 million in the first year. This will actually be higher as the open sea will constantly bring sand, which may keep the channel effectively closed much of the year. It is pertinent that the Suez Canal was cut through land, though it too has to be annually desilted. Many international shipping companies have already stated that using the canal would involve reducing speed, switching fuels, and incurring extra costs like canal charges and navigation assistance to negotiate it; hence, it made better sense to go around Sri Lanka! With news reports suggesting cost escalation up to Rs 4,000 crore, the argument for economic viability of the project is certainly over.

The Kochi-based Centre for Marine Fisheries Research Institute (CMFRI) has warned about the adverse effect on marine bio-diversity in the protected Gulf of Mannar Biosphere Reserve, if the SSCP is implemented. Director NGK Pillai has affirmed that the 3,600 species in the biosphere would be endangered if the Gulf of Mannar was linked to the Bay of Bengal, in the manner in which the Kochi shipyard had caused loss of nearly 60 per cent biodiversity in the Kochi estuary. Worldwide, the phenomenon of vanishing wildlife is reaching endemic proportions, and unless strict measures are taken, biodiversity loss could touch 60 per cent to 70 per cent in the next three decades. In this regard, the practice of trawl fishnets needs an urgent rethink, as they cause immeasurable damage to non-edible biota.

The National Institute of Ocean Technology has affirmed that the Ram Setu is a man-made structure, dating back to antiquity, a view shared by the National Remote Sensing Agency of the Ministry of Space, which has even been tabled in Parliament. This is why, once it was forced to withdraw the controversial affidavit denying the existence of Sri Ram, the Union Tourism and Culture Ministry insisted only an archaeological investigation could determine if the Ram Setu is man-made, and a legitimate heritage site worthy of protection under the Ancient Monuments Preservation Act, 1904. With monsoons ruling out an early investigation, the project is virtually in a limbo for the present.

But the danger is far from over as the forces behind SSCP are resourceful and powerful, as reflected in the ingenuous argument of protecting the Ram Setu while continuing with the project through a different alignment! It needs to be understood that the Ram Setu is a single, somewhat winding, land track between Sri Lanka and India, wide enough for an army to cross over. Over the centuries, natural erosion in the turbulent waters there has cut natural channels into it, wide enough for shallow boats to cross over to either side.

Any move to preserve the pristine glory of the Setu must envisage filling these passages and restoring the 'Ram path' between the two countries. Stopping SSCP vandalism at a spot where dredging is difficult and attacking the structure at a more vulnerable point, in the name of realignment, is desecration in disguise. It is pertinent that the southern sands are rich in thorium, our nuclear future. India does not need unnecessary activity in this area.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Rama Setu: Bhavabhuti’s presentation on theatre -- Sarvesh K. Tiwari

Rama Setu: Bhavabhuti’s presentation on theatre -- Sarvesh K. Tiwari

Excerpts from a brilliant monograph by Sarvesh K. Tiwari (24 May 2008):

One good example of this is how bhavabhUti (8th cent.) presents the episode of setu-bandhana in his play mahAvIra-charita…

(Picture a stage with a background depicting a palace-balcony overseeing the lush gardens, and rAvaNa standing in the center, apparently lost in thoughts of how to win over the sItA’s heart.)

Entry of mandodarI with a maid.

Maid (speaking in prAkR^ita): Here, Queen, here is the silver staircase for you to climb.

Mandodari (climbing the stairs while looking at rAvaNa, addressing audiences in prAkR^ita):
Why! Isn’t that our Ten-Headed Emperor himself! (then looking more directly at him as she reaches closer - ) Alas! Why does he gaze towards ashoka vATikA!! (now with sorrow in her voice - ) Why! Even during the times of invasions by enemy, does Emperor remain indifferent like this? (finally reaching near rAvaNa, addresses him - ) Victory to the Ten-Headed Emperor! jedu jedu mahArA.a dasakandharo!!

rAvaNa (as if fixing his posture): Why! mandodarI? (and sits down to the left)

mandodari (also sits down): mahArAj, what did you decide?

rAvaNa: about what?

mandodari: About the enemy army’s invasion.

rAvaNa (with sarcastic surprise): Why! Enemy! enemy’s army!! Invasion by enemy’s army!!! All the strange stuff you tell me today devi!

(changes tone for this ode: - )
That me — who in battlefield could hold two enraged elephants with two hands –
and then with the other four, block the dikpatI-s coming from all the four directions –
Mighty blows of indra’s vajra etc. were only good enough to leave slight bruises upon the skin of whose chest –
that me — now has got some enemy! Surely, an amusing thing I hear today!
(back to normal tone) so be it! Let us hear that too devi, say, who is that?

mandodarI: Followed by all the vAnara-s, marching ahead of sugrIva, matched in step by his younger brother, that son of dasharatha — rAma — so I hear.

RavaNa: a mendicant with a younger brother, devi!! So, what to speak of him! he would have gone away by now.

mandodari: Emperor! Better to be careful from this group. and there is more -
Encamping on the sea coast, rAma invoked sea-God. When he did not turn up – then –
(falling back to saMskR^ita, sings this ode -)
He then deployed certain prayoga-s of weapons, by which, in less than half a moment -
Entire water started revolving in a vortex, and also turned as red as blood -
The alligators began to fall unconscious, and the shells of tortoises started rupturing-
All creatures indeed of the ocean became unconscious, conch shells started exploding with thundering sounds.

rAvaNa (indignantly): So what?

mandodari (back to prAkR^ita): Emperor! After that, hounded by the arrows of rAma, Sea-God came forth from the waters, and falling to the shelter of rAma’s feet, told Him the path of how to cross over the ocean. And I hear further, that the Courageous One has even got that path constructed.

rAvaNa (quipping sarcastically): Very well! Let us then also hear devi, how is that path constructed!!

mandodari: Emperor! They are constructing a bridge by using the mountains brought by thousands of vAnara-s.

rAvaNa: devi, you have been conned by someone! This ocean knows no limits. The mountains found in the entire continent of jambU, and even those of all other continents too, would surely not be able to fill even a part of this ocean!!

Besides, by calling him brave and courageous you make a misjudgment about our own courage! Careless about the streams of blood flowing from the veins of our severed heads - nay! - smiling with the eyes filled with the tears of joy – had we performed our offering of our heads at the feet of Lord shiva. He, who pleased with us had accepted such our offering, that Lord Shiva himself is witness to our courage!!!”

mandodari: Emperor! Please do not dismiss this without paying a serious thought. This construction of setu is a unique event! By the earlier puNya-s of a certain vAnara, it seems even the stones are floating at the surface of the water!!!

rAvaNa (shaking his head in denial): To this stupidity of women - that stones can float over water – what can be said!!! What more to say devi than this:

(sings this ode — )
about our knowledge of scriptures, knows bhamhA himself, the propagator of vedA-s,
about our command, knows indra himself, the commander of Gods,
about our strength, knows vajra, and about our glory the whole world,
about our power knows mount kailAsha; and what is more –
about our courage knows none other than shiva Himself –
whose holy feet we had lavishly washed with our own blood!

(thundering sounds from the background)

mandodari: Emperor! Protection! Protection! (acts to be terrified, looks at him in fear)

rAvaNa: devi! Fear is baseless.

===(In the background, chorus makes more clear noises this time that inform the audience that rAma-lakshamaNa with sugrIva’s army have arrived at the gates of laMkA.)===

In the seventh act, this scene is about rAma, sItAdevI and lakshamaNa returning back to ayodhyA from laMkA in the pushpaka vimAna. sItAdevI gets the aerial view of rAma setu and in her amazement, she inquires her brother-in-law about it as follows:

seetaa: jo amhaanam jetthasasurehi kidanimmaano tti vuddhaparepararaaye sunoadee. Edasya majjhevi ki edam doorappasaaridam dhavalamsuam vi-a ahinavatinacchannaasu bhoomisu dosa-i

sItA (in prAkR^ita): I have been hearing that ancient tradition, that this massive flood in ocean came into existence by efforts of our Great-Grand Fathers-in-law. [9] Now, even in the heart of that ocean, what is that thing, which is shining as if a bright strip of cloth spread over greenery?

Lakhsmanah: devi. Sotsaaham dhrutas’aasanaih sakutukaivrukshaukasaam naayakai dikparyatadharaadharendras’ikharaanyaanaayya nirmapitah kalpaantaavadhivandaneeyamahimaa lokasya seturnavah keertistambha ivaayamaaryacaritasyaambhonidhau lakshyate

lakshamaNa: devi!
That, which was constructed by those great vAnara heroes cheerfully –
By bringing the rocks from the great mountains in all the directions –
That new Bridge whose fame is to remain till the last day of this universe –
Behold this! that Pillar of Glory of the character of our Arya!

The approving applauses from the audience.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Setu project threat to biodiversity, scrap the project -- CMFRI

Setu project threat to biodiversity, scrap the project -- CMFRI

Sethusamudram project threat to biodiversity

Mangalore, May 23: The proposed Sethusamudram project, if implemented, will adversely affect marine biodiversity in the “protected” Gulf of Mannar Biosphere Reserve, according to Director of Kochi-based Centre for Marine Fisheries Research Institute (CMFRI), N G K Pillai.

Pillai was inaugurating a seminar on “biodiversity regime and emerging challenges and opportunities” organised by Mangalore Research Centre of CMFRI here on Thursday. He said the Gulf had 3,600 species, including 300 species that were endemic to the region.

He gave the example of how projects such as Kochi shipyard had affected the marine biodiversity in Kochi estuary. He had studied virgin estuary in 1971-73 and there was little or no development activity. But another study he guided recently had revealed a biodiversity loss of up to 60 per cent.

He said a study by the World Wide Fund had revealed that a quarter of wildlife had been lost since 1970 and the maximum loss was reported in freshwater aquatic regions (29 per cent). The phenomenon of vanishing wildlife had reached alarming proportions, he said. Unless strict regulations were enforced, biodiversity loss would reach a staggering 60 to 70 per cent in the next three decades, he said. Decrying lack of political will to intervene effectively, he regretted that enforcement of many regulations left much to be desired. The only regulation adhered to was fishing holidays of 47 to 60 days. Although development activities could not be done away with, proper advice to policy makers had to be given and they might not be able to implement them for various reasons. Describing the use of trawl fishnets as “dangerous fishing practice,” he said net regulations had to be strictly enforced.

The nets brought a lot of non-edible biota to the shore and this was resulting in a “significant” biodiversity loss.

Recalling that India was home to three of the 37 global biodiversity hotspots, Pillai said some 600 species here had deteriorated.

Pillai released a CD on biodiversity.

H Shivananda Murthy, Director of Extension of the Karnataka Veterinary, Animal Sciences and Fisheries University, called for strict implementation of regulations regarding fishing nets. B R Vankatesh, Director, Geological Survey of India, spoke. K Vijayakumaran, Senior Scientist with the Mangalore Research Centre of CMFRI, said the seminar was organised to coincide with the World Biodiversity Day on Thursday.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Rama Setu: VHP to hold 2-day meet on June 15-16

'Ramar Sethu must be made a national monument'

NT Bureau | Thu, 22 May, 2008,03:14 PM

The controversial Sethusamudram canal project may for all practical purposes be on the backburner (thanks in the main to the Supreme Court suggestion to the Centre to look for alternative alignment and not harm the Ramar Sethu).

But the VHP, which is fighting to save the Ramar Sethu today reiterated that the agitations would continue till it (Sethu)was declared as a National Heritage Monument.
Ashok Singhal, International President of Vishwa Hindhu Parishad told newsmen here that the nation's vehement reaction against the central government's September 2007 affidavit questioning the historicity of Rama, Ramayana and Rama Sethu had forced it to withdraw the affidavit.

Ashok Singhal welcomed the recent direction of the Supreme Court on the Rama Sethu case as a 'landmark' one, as it (SC) had questioned the authenticity of the report of the eminent committee, which said that the Rama Sethu is a natural formation without making any archeological survey.

He demanded that the report submitted by the Committee of Eminent Persons must be withdrawn immediately and that the government must declare the Rama Sethu as a National Heritage Monument.

The 'Margdarshak Mandal' of Saints and Mahatmas would be meeting on 15 and 16 June during the 'Ganga Dasara' festival in Haridwar, where more than 50, 000 Sadhus are expected to decide the future course of action, he said.

Asked about his opinion on an alternative alignment he said that the government had no option but to scrap the project itself, as there was no possibility of an alternative alignment as per the government's expert opinions.

He also opined that the project itself is an American conspiracy, as it wanted to destroy the Thorium reserves along the southern coast of India, apart from making the historical waters shared by India and Sri Lanka as international waters through the implementation of the project.

On the internal security scenario, he said that, the whole nation was under the grip of Jihadis and demanded the immediate hanging of terrorist Mohammed Afzal Guru.

He also reiterated that the present UPA government and its supporters, the Left front have been indulging in vote bank politics through appeasement of minorities.

Asked about the Shiv Sena's opposition to the presence of Pakistani players in the ongoing IPL cricket tournament, he refrained from a direct reply but said that, both Pakistan and Bangladesh are our enemies and the Muslims of India must realise this fact in national interests.

He also felt that the so-called dialogue process would not build a 'Mountain of Peace' but a 'Mountain of Terror' and opined that, India must break all relationship with Pakistan and Bangladesh till they stop cross border terrorism and dismantle their terror infrastructures.

On Nepal, he said that the Himalayan Nation doesn't have a 'legal government' now and that the 'Maoists' do not believe in Democracy. He felt that a Maoist government in Nepal would not be good for India.

Earlier, Vedantham, the International Vice President of VHP said that Ashok Singhal is on a nationwide tour to meet the Peetathipathis, Madathipathis and Swamijis with regards to the forthcoming 'Ganga Dasara' festival to be conducted and celebrated in Haridwar.

RVP Maniyan State Vice President, VHP and Advocate Kuppuramu, National Secretary, Rameshwaram Rama Sethu Protection Movement were also present on the occasion.

Ram Sethu: VHP to hold 2-day meet on June 15-16

PTI | May 22, 2008 | 15:05 IST

With a view to strengthening its movement against the Rs 2,400 crore Sethusamudram Shipping Canal, involving dredging of the Ram Sethu (Adam's Bridge), the Vishwa Hindu Parishad will organise a two-day national meeting of 'sadhus' to press the Centre to announce Ram Sethu as a national heritage of historical importance.

VHP international president Ashok Singhal told reporters in Chennai on Thursday that the meeting, to be held on June 15 and 16 at Haridwar, would also decide on a 'massive agitation' involving 50,000 people, in support of the Ram Sethu movement.

"The belief over Ram Sethu is centuries-old and has followers not only in India, but all across South East Asia, including Cambodia and Indonesia, among others. Followers of Lord Ram in these countries revere him as a historical figure," he said.

"The meeting will equivocally demand that the Centre announce Ram Sethu as a national monument," he said while welcoming a recent Supreme Court directive to the Centre on undertaking an archaelogical survey of the monument.

The Ram Sethu has been a bone of contention between the ruling Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam in Tamil Nadu, which wants the project at any cost, and those opposed to the dredging of it as they claim that the bridge was built by Lord Ram to cross over to Sri Lanka.

The issue had even led to the Tamil Nadu chief minister making some critical remarks about Lord Ram, wondering if he was a qualified engineer to have constructed a bridge.
The Indian Navy and Coast Guard had also expressed their reservations over the project

While Naval Chief Admiral Sureesh Mehta had said that the project was 'viable' only for small ships, the Coast Guard Director General Vice Admiral R F Contractor said there was a possibility of the channel being used by militant groups.

Recalling the Aracheological Survey of India affidavit in the Supreme Court doubting the existence of Lord Ram, Singhal claimed that this had resulted in even the Congress getting divided over the project.

Claiming the implementation of the project as a "great risk for India's security," he expressed apprehension that it could also destroy India's thorium deposits in the region.

The project envisages linking the Palk Bay in India and the Gulf of Mannar in Sri Lanka by creating a shipping channel through the shallow seas.

To a query on the current internal security of the nation, Singhal said that the entire country was "in the grip of terrorism."

Responding to a query on the recent mandate handed over to the Maoists in Nepal by the people, Singhal said, "It will be another dictatorship, since the Maoists don't believe in democracy."

This was the situation in China too, he said.

"The Maoists believe in bullets, not ballots," he added.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Setu project: mocking science, devastating sea grass nurseries of fish stocks

Setu project: mocking science (also archaeology), devastating sea grass nurseries of fish stocks

SC bench asked a question of Advocate Krishnan. “Who says there will be a channel connecting Palk Straits and Gulf of Mannar. The two seas are already connected.” This shows pathetic lack of knowledge of bathymetry of the sea in Setusamudram. Bathymetry is topography of the ocean. At the Pamban gap, where the Palk Straits meets Gulf of Mannar, the depth of the ocean is very shallow, ranging from 4 ft. to 10 ft. This shallowness makes the ocean in Agritirtham a mere oceanic lake. This does NOT constitute an effective merging of the ocean-waters, providing for free movement of aquatic species. Many aquatic species, particularly of large-sized fishes thrive only in sea-depths deeper than 10 ft. Thus, opening up a channel of 300 m. width and 12 metres depth will effectively create a veritable ocean current moving such aquatic species from one habitat to another. Habitat protection and prevention of habitat migrations are mandated under the UN Laws of the Sea and in international treaty obligations to protect the marine ecosystem, endangered wild life and bioreserve. Sudarshan is right. SC is mocking science by asking the stupid question.

Dr. Subramanian Swamy pointed out that both navigation and fishing cannot co-exist. He was questioned by the SC Bench. The answer is simple: The proposed channel will cut off over 2500 sq. kms. of the bioreserve area from fishing activity since the channel alignment is exactly 3 kms. west of the medial line between India and Sri Lanka (that is a line which is only 15 kms. from Dhanushkodi). This means that for a stretch of over 4 kms. (including 300 m. + buoys floatation area), this ocean zone will NOT be accessible for fishing. Considering that the biosphere close to the medial line is the nursery for fish stocks, livelihood of coastal people dependent upon fishing will be devastated. Does the Union of India want to see the impoverishment of the coastal people, the fisherfolk, just to benefit a few vested interests with trawlers in Port Blair? Dr. Swamy produced evidence to demonstrate conflict of interest and asking for Hon. TR Baalu to be made a respondent. The silence of SC Bench on this demand was defeaning.

UOI senior advocate F. Narimaan mocked: "I have a problem with Rama's date of birth cited by Dr. Swamy." Little does he know that even Zarathushtra's dob may not be clear to him. Jurists, Municipal corporation's birth certificate ain't necessary. Not even archaeological surveys for a divyakshetram visited by over 5 lakh pilgrims evey year on ashadha amavasya day to offer pitru-tarpanam, homage to ancestors.

So, who is mocking science? The justice system is expected to protect the environment and also heritage. It is not competent to question faith or sanction an ecological disaster in the making through a Setu channel project, a mid-ocean channel passage unprecedented in the annals of technological history of mankind.


A mockery of science, conservation and environmental laws

Sudarshan Rodriguez (The Hindu, 19 May 2008)

It is beyond doubt that the Sethusamudram project will have disastrous consequences for the region’s biodiversity. PHOTO: K.GANESAN

UNCOMFORTABLE QUESTIONS: Dredging activity will result in the killing of species protected under the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972.

The religio-political controversy and public debate surrounding the Sethusamudram Ship Canal Project (SSCP) have overshadowed the original arguments raised against this project, namely its environmental, economic and social impacts.

Ecological significance

Part of the project area, specifically Adam’s Bridge, falls within the Gulf of Mannar Biosphere Reserve (GOMBR). It is India’s largest biosphere reserve and has an area of 10,500 sq km, covering the “Indian part of Gulf of Mannar between India and Sri Lanka.” It is one of India’s major coral reef ecosystems with 3,600 species of flora and fauna, of which 377 are endemic. It is famous for its chanks (conches and other shells) which make Rameswaram one of the world’s largest shell trade and craft centres. The 21 islands that constitute the core zone of the GOMBR form the Gulf of Mannar Marine National Park, which is India’s second marine national park. UNESCO’s Biosphere Reserve concept is based on the idea of oneness of humanity transcending national frontiers and recognises the need for conservation of vanishing species and habitats. The canal at Adam’s Bridge is a mere 20 km from Shingle Island, one of these 21 islands. With the completion of the SSCP, ships will be navigating through the biosphere reserve and close to the park.

The other part where most of the capital dredging is planned is the Palk Bay, which is also ecologically sensitive and has extensive sea grass meadows. Sea grasses serve as nurseries for fish stocks, and are essential grazing areas for turtles and dugongs (also known as the sea cow: a highly endangered species on the verge of extinction).

Rohan Arthur, an ecologist and a leading expert on sea grasses and corals with the Nature Conservation Foundation, is of the view that “the importance of the sea grass meadows of the Palk Bay and Gulf of Mannar cannot be overstated, as they are a conservation hotspot of regional and global relevance.” (from Review of the Environmental and Economic Aspects of the Sethusamudram Ship Canal Project, by Sudarshan Rodriguez, Jacob John, Rohan Arthur, Kartik Shanker and Aarthi Sridhar.)

Impact of dredging

The Palk Bay, known for its unusually high sedimentation rate, is one of the five permanent sediment sinks of India, that is, sediments are constantly being deposited in the Palk Bay and Palk Strait. The sediment sink and transport mechanism in the region are yet to be fully understood. Strangely, all the project documents summarily ignore important knowledge of sedimentation, and the bibliography stops at 1989 while some of the key papers were published in the late 1990s and since 2000. Dredging Adam’s Bridge along a 300-metre wide stretch to make the canal passage will have drastic consequences for marine ecosystems in the Palk Bay and the Gulf of Mannar. It will be akin to opening the floodgates of a dam and will allow sediments from the Palk Bay to flow freely into the Gulf of Mannar, thus affecting the corals and fisheries in the Marine National Park and the whole biosphere reserve. Both sea grasses and corals are sensitive to increases in sediment levels. “The changed sediment conditions have a range of effects on corals and sea grasses, affecting their basic physiology, reproduction, recruitment, population and community structure,” says Rohan Arthur in Review of the Environmental and Economic Aspects of the Sethusamudram Ship Canal Project (cited above).

Loss of wildlife

The project directly results in loss of wildlife, specifically protected species. This is evident from its own documents (Section 1.3 and 3.2 of the Environmental Impact Assessment prepared by NEERI) which acknowledges the presence of corals, sea fans, sponges, pearl oysters, chanks and sea cucumbers along the canal. The EIA (Section and 6.6) report states: “Due to dredging, the bottom flora and fauna on an area of about 6 sq km along the channel alignment in Adam’s Bridge and about 16-17 sq km in Palk Bay/Palk Strait area will be lost permanently.” Thus, the dredging activity for the canal will result in the killing of corals, sea fans, sponges, and sea cucumbers, all of which are protected species under the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972.

In fact, corals are Schedule I species, which means the government accords it the same protected status as a tiger. It is shocking that this aspect is being overlooked. According to the proponents of the project, it is an acceptable price to pay.

Environmental laws

The EIA did not have a dredging management programme. This is also pointed out in the L&T-Ramboll Detail Project Report (DPR) of the SSCP, which recommends that this be done (L&T-Ramboll DPR, Section 12.9.2 on page 12-11, bullet point 2). The EIA of the project also did not have a Disaster Management Plan (DMP), a mandatory legal requirement. (Under Form A, Item 11 of the EIA notification, 1994 and the Ministry of Environment and Forest’s EIA Manual).

Till date there is no DMP for the project and the project authorities have stated on various occasions that the Tuticorin Port Trust’s (TPT) DMP would be applicable for the project. The TPT’s DMP was developed only for the functioning of the Tuticorin port, where ships navigated in the southern Gulf of Mannar (around Kanyakumari) to Tuticorin and not further through Adam’s Bridge and Palk Bay.

Many experts have pointed out severe shortcomings in the project’s documents and design in terms of data gaps with respect to basic parameters such as sub-surface geology, bathymetry, and sedimentation process in the project area. These have resulted in the poor design of the project and inadequate assessment of risks, hazards and environmental impacts. It is beyond doubt that it will have disastrous consequences for the region’s biodiversity, causing major and permanent losses to fisheries and livelihoods.

The government needs to answer some uncomfortable questions on why it ignored its own conservation and environment laws. The relegation of the above-mentioned environmental arguments against the SSCP, and the lack of scientific rigour in the design and EIA of the project, represent a mockery of science, conservation and environmental laws.

(Sudarshan Rodriguez is a Senior Research Associate at the Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment (ATREE). He can be contacted at sudarshanr @ yahoo. com)

Ram existed, so did temple

Marxist historians often talk about 'scientific rationalism' but give step-motherly treatment to archaeology, as it proves India's rich cultural heritage, says Sandhya Jain

Rama: His Historicity, Mandir & Setu
Author: BB Lal Publisher: Aryan Books Price: Rs 190
Archaeology, long given the step-sisterly treatment by Marxist historians, now finds itself at the high table of history, as it alone can deliver a credible verdict on whether the Ram Setu shows evidence of human intervention in the hoary past. The Supreme Court's direction to the Union Government in this regard is welcome to the extent that the UPA is made to depute only reputed archaeologists for this task, and not the type of academics accredited to the Babri Masjid Action Committee.

The Archaeological Survey of India has been without a proper head since the retirement of late MC Joshi over a decade ago. Reports delivered under the headship of an IAS officer will not have credibility; nor will a committee that does not include the iconic Prof BB Lal and Mr KN Dikshit, who was closely associated with the excavations of the Ramayan sites. Prof Lal's timely book addresses hard facts relating to Ram as a historical figure, the Janmabhoomi temple and the Ram Setu. The production values are high, and Prof Lal generously waived his royalty to bring the work within the reach of the people.

Lal began exploring western Uttar Pradesh as Superintending Archaeologist, Excavations, ASI, and found the distinctive Painted Grey Ware pottery at the lowest levels, far below material known to belong to the sixth and fifth century BCE. As many sites were associated with the Mahabharat, he excavated Hastinapur, Meerut district, and found that a sizeable portion of the PGW settlement was washed away by a heavy flood. This exactly matched the Mahabharat: "After the washing away of the site of Hastinapur by the Ganga, Nichaksu (the then ruler) will abandon it and move to Kausambi." Sure enough, the lowest levels at Kausambi begin with the same kind of material culture found at Hastinapur at the time of the flood.

Lal conceived the idea of the 'Archaeology of the Ramayan Sites,' but could actually take it up only after voluntary retirement from ASI in 1972, focussing on five major sites. At Ayodhya, human settlement began with a phase associated with the distinctive Northern Black Polished Ware (NBPW) pottery. The findings included iron and copper tools that could be used for domestic chores, agriculture, even warfare. Gradually, weights of fine-grained stones appeared, along with coinage.

The NBPW-period weights were cylindrical, those in Harappa cubical. The coins were earliest in the country, silver or copper, with punch marks and no inscriptions. The structures were mud or mud bricks; and, later kiln-fired bricks. Writing began in the NBPW period, and settlements continued uninterrupted through the Sunga, Kushan and Gupta periods.

In the suburb Ranopali, a stone inscription datable first century BCE mentions the construction of a ketana (shrine?) by Dhanadeva, king of Kosala, sixth from Pushyamitra, who killed the last Mauryan king, Brihadratha, and seized the throne; thus, Ayodhya was the capital of the Kosala kingdom even in the early CE. Though deserted after the Gupta period, Hanumangarhi and Janmabhoomi were reoccupied in the 11th and 12th centuries. In the uppermost levels of a trench just south of the Babri Masjid, a series of brick-cum-stone bases were discovered, over which there evidently once stood stone pillars. Affixed to the piers of the Masjid were stone pillars bearing Hindu motifs and sculptures. (In 2002-03, under apex court mandated digging of the Babri area, the existence of a Hindu temple below the structure was vindicated).

Sringaverapura is a massive mound on left bank of Ganga in Allahabad district, heavily eroded by the river, but still offering remains of occupational strata. It is earlier than Ayodhya with Ochre Colour Ware (OCP) pottery in the lowest levels; also, found were harpoons, antennae swords and anthropomorphic figures, known collectively as 'Copper Hoards'. This cultural complex is datable circa 2000 BCE to mid-2000 BCE. But OCP-occupation was short-lived, and after a break in occupation, black-slipped and black-and-red wares were followed by NBPW. This period yields the same material culture as corresponding strata at Ayodhya, and was succeeded by Sunga, Kushan and Gupta periods. After a break, the site was reoccupied in the 12th century CE, as indicated by numerous coins of the illustrious Gahadavala ruler, Govinda Chandra.

The flat land associated in public memory with Bharadvaj Ashram revealed kiln-fired bricks, pottery, terracotta figurines and inscribed seals of Gupta era. There were no structures or regular occupational floors below, but lumps of clay with reed impressions, showing sporadic occupation with wattle-and-daub huts, consistent with an ashram. NBPW was found at Chitrakuta and Nandigram.

It is significant that Bharadwaj ashram did not exist when Valmiki composed the epic, between third century BCE and third century CE, though other sites associated with the Ramayan were occupied at that time. Valmiki's inclusion of the ashram at the site popularly associated with it suggests it did exist, and was probably recorded in a pre-existing ballad which formed the kernel of his narrative. There is evidence that Ganga flowed past the ashram, but the river has since been diverted by a bund.

Carbon-14 dating of the NBPW strata from Ayodhya's upper levels gave a date-range from sixth to third centuries BCE. But after excavations of the lower levels in Janmabhoomi area in 2002-03, the Birbal Sahni Institute of Palaeobotany, Lucknow, gave a date-range of 970-810 BCE to 1980-1320 BCE. These excavations were a fallout of the December 6, 1992 demolition, which revealed much archaeological material from the walls of the masjid, including three inscriptions. The largest, in chaste Nagari script of the 11th and 12th century, clearly states that a beautiful temple of Vishnu-Hari was constructed in the city of Ayodhya, Saketamandala, by Meghasuta, vassal of Govinda Chandra. Lal dismisses the allegation that the slab was brought from elsewhere and sneaked into the masjid at the time of demolition as ferrying so much material to Ayodhya would require many trucks, and would have been detected by the print and electronic media and security personnel present in hordes there.

The book is such a mine of information that it is impossible to do it justice in a brief review. Lal concludes with a scientific examination of the landmass from Dhanushkodi on the Tamil Nadu shore to Talaimannar in Sri Lanka, noting the literary and other references to the Setu. He concludes that after the end of the last Glacial Period 10,000 years ago, the sea levels rose worldwide by a conservative estimate of two metres per 1,000 years. Thus, around 1000 BCE the sea level was possibly six metres below current levels, which matches the period ascribable to Ram. This means the land-mass from Dhanushkodi to Talaimannar would be exposed sandbanks, whose gaps could be filled with shoals and evened to facilitate the march of an army. It does not require an engineering degree at all.

Rama Setu: Mahendra, son of Asoka crossed by road to Lanka

Scholar says there was road to Lanka

Deccan Chronicle (May 19, 2008)

Chennai, May 18: A Sinhala scholar's remark that Mahendra, son of Emperor Asoka, reached the island nation by land from South India has further substantiated the existence of Ram Sethu, the controversial structure in the Indian Ocean. “Mahendra preached Buddhism in south India for some time before embarking on his Sri Lanka mission. He had toured entire South India before reaching the Island by road,” said Prof Tissa Kariyawasam, eminent Sinhala scholar and former dean of the University of Jayawardenapura, Sri Lanka.

Prof Kariyawasam told this newspaper that “Mahavamsa,” the great chronicle of Buddhist history was silent about Mahendra’s south India mission. “The chroniclers wanted to give an aura of divinity to Mahendra and hence they made his appearance in Sri Lanka look like a miracle. In reality, he walked all the way from south India to Lanka through the existing road route,” said Prof Kariyawasam.

“The Buddhist scholars who chronicled all these events wanted to give Mahendra the image of an Aryan missionary. The Buddhist history is also silent about the migration from South India to Lanka. How is it that no records were made about the people of south India which is hardly 23 km away from Jaffna,” asked Prof Kariyawasam who was in Chennai to deliver the sixth Vesak Commemoration lecture.

According to Prof Kariyawasam, it was the change in the main political agenda of the Sinhala politicians which led to the vitiation of the Sinhala-Tamil relations. “There was no difference between the Sinhalas and the Tamils during the British Raj. We could observe Buddha Purnima as a national holiday because of the good work done by a Tamil leader Ponnambalam Ramanathan. Though there were two Sinhala members in the state council (equivalent of Parliament) in 1885, they looked the other way when Mr Ramanathan fought for the Sihala cause,” said the professor. He charged that the ungrateful Sinhala politicians conspired and ousted the Ponnambalam brothers Ramanathan and Arunachalam from the state council in 1921. About a permanent solution to the ethnic strife in Sri Lanka, Prof Kariyawasam said that peace would return the day people in the country understand the ultimate truth that there were no differences between them. says there was road to Lanka

Scholar hints at existence of Ram Sethu
NewsByte 18 May, 2008 03:47:27 By OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT

Chennai, May 18: A Sinhala scholar’s remark that Mahendra, son of Emperor Asoka, reached the island nation by land from South India has further substantiated the existence of Ram Sethu, the controversial structure in the Indian Ocean.

"Mahendra preached Buddhism in south India for some time before embarking on his Sri Lanka mission. He had toured entire South India before reaching the Island by road," said Prof. Tissa Kariyawasam, eminent Sinhala scholar and former dean of the University of Jayawardenapura, Sri Lanka. Prof. Kariyawasam told this newspaper that "Mahavamsa", the great chronicle of Buddhist history was silent about Mahendra’s south India mission. "The chroniclers wanted to give an aura of divinity to Mahendra and hence they made his appearance in Sri Lanka look like a miracle. In reality, he walked all the way from south India to Lanka through the existing road route," said Prof. Kariyawasam.

"The Buddhist scholars who chronicled all these events wanted to give Mahendra the image of an Aryan missionary. The Buddhist history is also silent about the migration from South India to Lanka. How is it that no records were made about the people of south India which is hardly 23 km away from Jaffna," asked Prof. Kariyawasam who was in Chennai to deliver the Sixth Vesak Commemoration Lecture. According to Prof. Kariyawasam, it was the change in the main political agenda of the Sinhala politicians which led to the vitiation of the Sinhala-Tamil relations. "There was no difference between the Sinhalas and the Tamils during the British Raj."

Friday, May 16, 2008

Scrap Setu project, else face nation's wrath: VHP to UPA Govt.

Scrap Setu Project, else face nation's wrath: VHP to UPA Government

B K Upmanyu, 16 May 2008, Friday

Ram Sethu continues to evoke responses. This time it is the VHP. The organisation's international president has warned the government against going ahead with the project. He has also accused the government of hurting the sentiments of the Hindus.

Singhal warns government against Sethu project B K Upmanyu 16 May 2008, Friday
ASHOK SINGHAL, international president of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), today (May 16) said that the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government has insulted the sentiments of the people by negating the very existence of Ram and Dhanushkoti, the place from where the bridge to Sri Lanka was constructed.

He said that Ram Sethu was constructed to kill demon Ravana and added that the government should desist from its attempts to demolish the structure. The VHP leader said that questioning Rama’s divine status was like humiliating the sentiments of the Hindus.

Speaking at a three day seminar organised by Jagdev Chand Memorial Research Centre, at Neri near Hamirpur, Singhal said that the VHP and the other right-wing organisations have time and again conveyed to the government that they are not against the Sethu Samudram Channel Project (SSCP), but are opposed to any efforts aimed at tampering with the ancient Indian history.

He said that the Chennai High Court had asked the Union government to requisition the services of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) to ascertain the existence of the man-made bridge between India and Sri Lanka. However, the government has taken the matter to the Supreme Court, he said.
“The Central government is bent upon creating an artificial canal through the Ram Sethu despite the fact that there are five alternate routes through the Palk Strait and the Gulf of Munnar,” he added.

The firebrand leader warned the government that the people of the country would not tolerate any damage to the bridge. He asked Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh not to succumb to the pressure from the UPA ally, the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagan (DMK), to go ahead with the project.

“Government will face the consequences if it does not scrap the project,” he said adding that the PM should not think about the survival of his government. “If he scraps the project, he will get good wishes from crores of Hindus worldwide.”

Singhal lamented that the percentage of Hindus in the country was coming down. He alleged that the Congress, which claims itself to be a secular party, was becoming a Muslim party and all the powers were being extended to Muslims.

The international president of the VHP strongly criticised the UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi and her family for promoting Christianity in India. “The way Rahul Gandhi has been meeting the downtrodden proves that he is hand-in-glove with the Christians, propagating their mission in the country,” he alleged.

The VHP leader said that those, who are bent upon destroying the bridge have no right to stay in the country. He also appealed to all the political parties - irrespective of their vote bank, caste, region, language - to come forward in support of the Ram Sethu and also support the reconstruction of Ram temple in Ayodhya.

He further added that the verdict of courts in the Ayodhya case would not decide the fate of the temple as people had been waiting for 60 years for the verdict and could not wait any further.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008
Sethusamudram case: K.Parasaran’s submissions
Parasaran began with the Preamble to the Constitution, which proclaimed its resolve to secure to all its citizens, liberty of belief, faith and worship, among other things. He said Ram Sethu is considered by large sections of believers as holy and sacred place. To interfere or destroy even part of the said causeway would be an interference with the right of liberty of belief, faith and worship. Splitting the word Ramayana as Ram and ayana, he said the latter denotes the path, which the former took, and it is not just a story. In Hinduism, he said feet is considered holy. That is why he suggested Ram Sethu is not just any other Hill or river, which may equally be considered holy. He asked, “Is there a compelling necessity to cause this wound to the belief of the people?”

In pluralist secular country, in situations of conflict between different facets of public interest, an attempt should be made to so mould the situation and interpret law to bring about concordance and not discordance, he said. According to him, the present case involves two aspects of public interest, claim of right to religious belief, faith and worship on the one hand, and the claim of economic and commercial development in the matter of providing convenient passage for ships. Every attempt should be made to accommodate both the aspects of public interest which would be in conformity with the principles of concordance in pluralist society. If both cannot be accommodated the Court must weigh one competing aspect of public interest against the other, and decide where the balance lies. In doing so, it will ensure that the constitutionally protected fundamental rights are not violated. The Court will have to take into account the nature of the injury to the public interest in deciding the conflict, he submitted.

In a lighter vein, Justice Raveendran asked how was it that Parasaran argued against the Government, when in every other case, including the OBC quota, he argued for the Government. Another petitioner in this case, Subramanian Swamy got up and said it was Lord Rama who got him this side.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Itihaasa Rama

Itihaasa Rama

Hindu civilization tradition has two itihaasa: Ramayana and Mahabharata. Ramayana is also narrated in the Mahabharata, making Ramayana the aadi kaavya and the earliest itihaasa. In the Hindu tradition, the key attribute of itihaasa is: Upades’a samanvitam (blended with guidance). The ayana of Rama is such a guidance, the setu of Rama is such an inspiration that with determination, even oceans can be crossed.

Without Setu there is no Ramayana and without Ramayana, there is no Hindu civilization and there is no Hindu culture because Rama is the very embodiment of dharma, vigrahavaan dharmah. Hindu civilization exists so long as sanatana dharma exists.

An amusing incident occurred in the Supreme Court on 9 May 2008. Some counsels referred to Encyclopaedias (Britannica etc.) to ‘prove’ Setu or worship in Setu. The Bench was also amused that Encyclopaedias should be cited to validate Ramayana or the ayana, journey of Rama. My mother’s mention of Rama is enough for me. My mother’s message that I should follow Rama as a role model is enough for me. I need no evidence, no birth certificates issued by bureaucrats. Mythology is history, tradition is evidence – the very essence of our identity. This needs no validation in any forum, but the forum of every individual’s conscience.

We are living in ridiculous, pathetic times, citing indologists or encyclopaedias to validate our own identity.

History is bunk. Beyond history, beyond aadhyaatma, Rama is the very aatman of Hindu civilization and culture. Archaeology is mere tilting at windmills, gathering anecdotes and trying to reconstruct the grand narrative of Hindu civilization. The grand narrative is told by every mother who lights up a deepam every day or does rangoli in front of the house or reads the Tulsidas’ Ramacharitamaanas or Valmiki Ramayana, recollecting maryaadaa purushottama. When a sankalpa is done, Rama is remembered: Sri rama rama rameti vyapohati na sams’ayah and the yajnikaa locates himself in time-space continuum, the mahaakaala.

Thanks to BB Lal and Sandhya Jain for presenting the historical perspectives on Rama.

B.B. Lal has brought out a new book (99 pages) titled, Raama – his historicity, mandir and Setu; evidence of literature, archaeology and other sciences (Aryan Books Intl. New Delhi, 2008). I will not attempt a review of this work.

The blurb reads: “The recent controversy about the Rama Setu has offered an opportunity to certain individuals to question even the historicity of Raama. Their approach is quite ingenious. If the very existence of Raama as a real-life person is denied, the question of there having been a Setu associated with him automatically does not arise. In this context, one cannot help quoting the learned Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu who recently raised two very interesting questions, namesly ‘Who is this Raama?’ and ‘From which engineering college did he graduate?’ This booklet seeks to present archaeological facts, nothing but hard facts, in regard to the three more or less allied topics, viz., (i) ‘Was Raama a figment of the imagination of a poet called Vaalmiki, or is there any evidence to suggest that he may have been a historical figure?’; (ii) ‘Was there a temple in the Janma-Bhumi area at Ayodhya, prior to the construction of the Babari Masjid?’ and (iii) ‘What are the ‘credentials’ of Rama Setu’?”

Ram bridges our history

Sandhya Jain (Pioneer, 13 May 2008)

The current controversy over Ram Setu presents an ideal opportunity to probe the reality of a god whose human incarnation is central to Hindu faith. The deity who inspired a footbridge wide enough for an army to cross the Palk Straits poses a powerful challenge to historians who hold that India's first political states were the 16 mahajanapadas that fought to control the Ganga valley in the sixth-fifth centuries BCE. The kings of Kashi, Koshal, and the Vrijji confederacy succumbed to Magadh under Bimbisar (c 543-491 BCE). Much later, after Alexander's retreat, the Mauryan Empire (322-185 BCE) rose by deposing the Nanda dynasty.

Can history accept that Koshal (which included Ayodhya) was an older kingdom; that a prince banished after a palace coup could raise a formidable force and cross an ocean to recover his abducted wife? Closely linked is the veracity of Valmiki Ramayan as 'itihas', not kavya; the existence of a temple in the Janmabhoomi; and the evidence of human intervention at the Setu.

Chandragupta Maurya's mentor, Kautilya, treated Ramayan and Mahabharat as familiar history. In the Adhikarana dealing with discipline, the author of Arthasastra advises shunning the vices of lust, anger, greed, vanity, haughtiness and excessive joy, for Ravan perished because he was too vain to restore a stranger's wife; Duryodhan because he would not part with a portion of his kingdom.

Ram's life resonated in art from the time image-making began. Kausambi, Uttar Pradesh, has the earliest terracotta depiction of a Ramayan scene, datable second-first century BCE, which shows Ravan abducting Sita and the latter throwing her ornaments on the ground to help Ram to trace her (described in Aranya Kand, 54th Sarga, Slok 2, 3). This coincides with the period when Buddha's life began to be portrayed in stone, notably at Sanchi and Bharhut, Madhya Pradesh. If the latter are accepted as true episodes from the Sakya Muni's life, it follows that the real story of Ram was being depicted in the Hindu art of the same period. Los Angeles County Museum has a terracotta sculpture of Ram from Nachara Khera, Haryana, with an inscription saying "Ram,' in Brahmi script of the third century CE.

Scholars believe an earlier narrative formed the kernel of the written Ramayan, which was completed between third century BCE and third century CE. The Buddhist Jatakas are almost contemporaneous with Valmiki; possibly both drew on an older source. The earliest Tamil Sangam literature, dating a couple of centuries before the CE, mentions the exploits of Ram. A verse in the Purananuru collection says that when Ravan was carrying Sita away, she dropped her ornaments as clues to her whereabouts (depicted very early in art).

Three Buddhist Jatakas which form part of the Khuddaka-nikaya, third century BCE, deal with the Ram story, with minor variations. The Dasarath Jataka is set in Varanasi, not Ayodhya; however, Ram gives his sandals to Bharat to rule the kingdom on his behalf. The Nidana of the King of Ten Luxuries is lost, but survives in a Chinese translation by Kekaya in 472 CE. Similarly, the Anamaka Jataka or Jataka of the Unnamed King is preserved in Chinese translation by Sogdian monk Kan-Seng-hui in 251 CE.

The Jain Ramayans are in Sanskrit, Prakrit, Apabhramsa, and Kannada. The canonical second century Anuyogadvara lists many works, including Ramayanam; but Vimala Suri's Pauma-chariyam , fifth century, is the earliest version, along with Vasudevahindi. There followed Ramayan of Svayambhu in Apabhramsa (eighth century); Mahapuran of Pushpadant in Prakrit (tenth century); Pampa Ramayan by Nagachandra (11th century); and Jina Ramayan by Chandrasagar Varni (19th century). Nagachandra records a tradition that the ancient inhabitants of Kishkinda were not monkeys but a tribe whose banner carried the insignia of a monkey.

Sri Lanka is integral to the story; this calls for a credible explanation if a north Indian poet was imagining events from a jungle haven. Sri Lanka has many sites associated with Ramayan. Its literary texts include Janaki-harana by Kumaradasa, 7th century. As Janaki (Sita) was abducted to Lanka, this is of natural interest to a Lankan poet. Ram's travails made their way to China, Tibet, Mongolia, Japan, Philippines, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Cambodia, and found representation in the visual and plastic arts.

Archaeology has yielded much since Prof BB Lal began excavating the 'Ramayan Sites' in 1972. The demolition of 6 December, 1992 yielded valuable material from the walls of Babri Masjid, including three inscriptions. Deciphered by renowned epigraphist Prof Ajaya Mitra Shastri of Nagpur University, the largest, in classical Nagari script of 11th-12th century, said a temple of Vishnu-Hari was constructed in the temple city of Ayodhya, Saketamandala. Supreme Court mandated excavations of 2002-03 indicate that the earliest habitations at Ayodhya go back well before 1000 BCE (possibly 1980-1320 BCE).

So what are the true credentials of the 30-km chain of sandbanks, underlain by coral reefs and limestone shoals, from Dhanushkodi in Tamil Nadu to Talaimannar in Sri Lanka? In the 11th century, Alberuni noted: "...Setubandha means bridge of the ocean. It is the dike of Ram, the son of Dasarath, which he built from the continent to the castle Lanka. At present it consists of isolated mountains between which the ocean flows." A 16th-17th century map shows a land-link between India and Sri Lanka; Ramanathapuram Gazetteer refers to Sethu Palam. The 13th century Venetian, Marco Polo, speaks of 'Setabund Rameshwara', bridge related to Ram. Coins by Tamil kings of Nallur in Jafna (Sri Lanka), who ruled between the 13 th and 17th centuries, affirm the existence of Ram Setu.

A cross-section of the setu with present sea level as datum-line shows many sandbanks above sea-level. The last glacial period ended 10,000 years ago; subsequently sea levels rose by a conservative two metres per 1,000 years. Microsoft Encarta 2006 says melting of ice sheets in Flandrian Transgression caused separation of Ireland from Great Britain; and of Great Britain from mainland Europe.

Ayodhya excavations suggest Ram's era fell around 1,000 BCE, when the sea level was probably six metres below current levels, exposing the entire land-mass near Dhanushkodi to Talaimannar. The odd stretch underwater could easily be filled up to create a ford to cross over. A close up of the setu shows firm edges on both sides (to prevent erosion), suggestive of human agency.

Unesco intervention sought to protect Rama Setu: Prof. Snjezana; Warning issued on political price to pay: VHP

UNESCO intervention sought to protect Rama Setu: Prof. Snjezana; Warning issued on political price to pay: VHP

May 13, 2008
Let UNESCO Intervene in protecting Ram Setu- Professor Snjezana Karinja of Sergej Masera Maritime Museum, Slovenia

mystical, ancient land-link between India and Sri Lanka is under threat, writes Kerry van der Jagt in The Sun-Herald

The much-loved story of Ramayana, a famous epic of ancient India, is as timeless as history itself. It is a story of courage that embodies a moral code of ethics and culminates in the triumph of good over evil. In dance performances depicting Rama's life, the story tells of how the demon king, Ravana, uses trickery to kidnap Lord Rama's wife, Sita, and how Rama, with the help of his army of monkeys, builds a bridge of stones from India to Sri Lanka to rescue her.

Ram Setu, meaning Rama's Bridge (also known as Adam's Bridge) is the name given to the narrow ridge of sand and rocks between Sri Lanka and India which may or may not be the mythical bridge. For the majority of Indians on the subcontinent and countless more worldwide, particularly across South-East Asia, the 48-kilometre-long underwater feature is physical evidence of the Ramayana and hence has huge cultural significance. The name Adam's Bridge indicates that Christians and Muslims may have reason to revere the bridge.

But now it needs rescuing.

The Sethusamudram Shipping Canal Project has started dredging the sunken causeway with the aim of reducing travel time for ships going from the west to the east coast of India. Dredging began two years ago and already 20percent of the bridge has been destroyed. However, after fierce criticism, the project stalled in 2007 and is yet to restart. Perhaps Rama's monkeys are lending a hand again.

The bridge has been mentioned in many historical documents and 12th century maps including those of Marco Polo. He called this area Setabund-Rameswara, which means a bridge constructed at Rameswaram, reinforcing the belief that this structure is the ancient bridge.

In 2002, a NASA satellite produced images of what looks like a string of pearls connecting Rameswaram off the south-eastern coast of India with the north-west of Sri Lanka. The question being asked is, "Is it a natural phenomenon or the remnant of something man-made?"

Calls for the preservation of the bridge have come from various groups including naval cartographers and shipping specialists who question the usefulness of dredging when the resulting canal will be just 12metres deep, and only small and medium-sized vessels will be able to use the new passage.

The worldwide trend in shipping is to larger ships because it is more economical. The Panama Canal allows vessels of 90,000 tonnes and the Suez 120,000 tonnes - but the maximum for the Sethusamudram would be 30,000 tonnes.

It has been suggested that during the December 2004 tsunami, the bridge acted as a natural barrier, deflecting the tsunami and preventing the devastation of a large section of coastline around Kerala in southern India.

Tsunami expert Professor Tad Murty, who advised the Indian Government in 2004 , agrees that there is a real threat to southern Kerala from future tsunamis in South-East Asia. However, he has not gone so far as to say that the dredging project will increase the chances of devastation.

What is needed is the intervention of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation. Professor Snjezana Karinja, curator of archaeology for the Sergej Masera Maritime Museum in Slovenia, says that whether or not the bridge is man-made is irrelevant. "Under UNESCO guidelines for heritage listing, Ram Setu should be allocated heritage status for its cultural significance," she says.

In 2005, UNESCO named the legend of the Ramayana and its related oral and cultural tradition on a list of 90 outstanding examples of the world's Intangible Cultural Heritage.

Various groups worldwide, concerned with the cultural and environmental devastation that further dredging will cause, are pressuring the Indian Government to preserve the bridge.

Dr Kama Maclean, lecturer at the University of NSW's school of history and philosophy, is an expert in Indian history and politics.

"The issue is whether an economic benefit, such as the cost-cutting from reduced shipping time, should justify the removal of a site of religious significance," she says.

"It is clear that there is much religious importance attached to the bridge and, even if we don't share that, I think we need to respect those that do."

Intangible culture includes song, music, drama, skills, oral history and the other parts of culture that can be recorded but cannot be touched and interacted with.

Since culture is the highest expression of what it means to be human, the Ram Setu Bridge should be preserved and viewed as belonging to all humanity.

Even a monkey would know that.

'Govt to pay heavy price if Ram Setu demolished'

Monday, May 12 2008 18:38(IST)

New Delhi, May 12: The Vishwa Hindu Parishad today warned the government against demolition of the Ram Setu in Tamil Nadu saying if it fails to declare it a national monument, it would have to pay a heavy political price. Addressing the media VHP international president Ashok Singhal said if the government wanted to stay afloat politically, it would have to refrain from touching the Ram Setu and declare it a national monument.

''Any move to hurt the sentiments of the people would have dire consequences and if this government went ahead with its plans to demolish the Ram Setu it would pay a heavy price politically.'' Calling the government's intentions as mala fide, the VHP leader said despite the Madras High Court and Supreme Court's directive the Centre was circumventing their orders to play into the hands of the US which did not want India to rise as an energy superpower. (UNI)

Read more reports at:

Monday, May 12, 2008

Rama Leela: Rama Setu Protection Movement and Case in Supreme Court

Rama Leela: Rama Setu Protection Movement and Case in Supreme Court

Since culture is the highest expression of what it means to be human, the Ram Setu “Bridge should be preserved and viewed as belonging to all humanity,” says Kerry van der Jagt in the Sydney Herald of 11 May 2008. See his full article appended as pdf document.

Some remarkable coincidences and highlights are presented (to be read in the context of over 8000 pages of documentation in over 160 topics presented to the Courts). One wonders why ASI should study the Setu through exploration. It is an undeniable cultural fact that over 5 lakh pilgrims congregate on Ashadha Amavasya day to offer pitru tarpanam (offerings to ancestors) and perform setusnaanam at the Setutirtham. This fact is enough to declare Rama Setu as an ancient monument, world heritage and Rameshwaram environs as Divyakshetram.

Six coincidences

Cho Balakrishnan, a Congress MLA of Ramanathapuram District went to break the coconut inaugurating Setusamudram project work. He had a heart attack and died the same evening.

The Aquarium dreger of Dredging International of Belgium was engaged to break the Rama Setu. Its spud broke and the 50-tonne elephant like metal scrap is still lying on Sandbank 6 of Rama Setu unsalvaged.

A crane named Hanuman was brought from Dredging Corporation of India in VIshakapatnam to recover the broken spud. The Hanuman crane which could lift upto 200 tonnes also broke and had to return.

A dredger of DCI sank in the Bay of Bengal even before reaching Rama Setu.
A Russian engineer and a foreign dredger were brought to continue the effort to break Rama Setu. The engineer broke both his legs and had to be hospitalized in Apollo Hospital.

Tamilnadu Congress President Mr. Krishnaswami was attacked by unknown assailants on his way from Rama Setu towards Madurai. An attempted stabbing was foiled by the Rama medallion he wore on his gold chain. His family members attributed this saving of his life by Rama medallion.

Stay order in SC

Reliable and authentic information was received from a number of sources that plans were in place to blast through Rama Setu since attempts at dredging using dredgers had failed.

The sources were: Naval High Command, Scientists and experts knowledgeable about blasting operations, a photographer who was assigned to photograph the specific spots on Rama Setu where blasting explosives were to be implanted. Information from all the sources were confirmed on the day the Sri Rama Maha Yajna was being conducted in Rameshwaram close to Rama Setu.

Dr. Subramanian Swamy put all this information on a one-page affidavit and went to the SC Registrar (Shri Shah) requesting for listing a hearing on the affidavit. The Registrar expressed his inability to list the case immediately in the absence of and since the Chief Justice Mr. Balakrishnan had been deputed on a tour to South Africa. He was asked whether any other senior judge could act on behalf of the CJI. That Senior-most judge was Justice BN Agarwal who was then contacted with the requested. The Justice asked Mr. Shah what was the problem in listing the case for hearing. Upon hearing Mr. Shah's response, Justice Agarwal asked, 'Does the Constitution come to a stand-still because CJI is on tour? Please list the case that day, that afternoon.'

The case was listed as the last item of the day. The affidavit was the only piece of paper with the Judges BN Agarwal and Naolekar. Govt. Counsel was asked if he denied the averments in the affidavit. The Counsel was asked if he would give an undertaking that no blasting would be done on Rama Setu because the petitioners claimed that blasting Rama Setu would render the petitions infructuous. The Counsel refused to give such an undertaking. Stay order was given that no damage should be caused to Rama Setu while implementing the Setu project.

Highlights in SC

'Bhoomaata is sacred, trees are sacred, mountains are sacred, Ganga is sacred. Does it mean that no trees can be cut, no stone can be taken from the mountains and no bridge built on Ganga?' was the question by a judge the Bench. Senior Counsel, Soli Sorabjee responded: 'What a stupid question to ask.' And went on to elaborate on the restrictions placed on SC by Article 25 of the Constitution which guaranteed Religious Freedom. SC had no competence to question issues of Faith and Worship. Rama Setu was a sacred monument and was a place of worship. Another Senior Counsel Parasaran went on to explain the nature of the worship according to the sacred texts.

'What is the problem? Only 300 m. channel is sought to be furrowed in a structure of over 35 kms.' Response by the Counsel for the petitioners: Not even a centimetre of Rama Setu can be touched because the character of the monument as a bridge (that is, Setu) will be destroyed by cutting a furrowed channel.

Bench asked Senior Counsel Parasaran: 'How come you are on this side of the courtroom?' (referring to the fact that he was arguing the case for the petitioners in stead of representing the Union of India). The Counsel responded: 'I am at the fag-end of my career and life. This may be one of the few last cases I will appear for. I go to Rameshwaram at least 3 times every year and near by native village, Devipattinam. I offer prayers to Rama Setu by drawing a dhanush at Dhanushkodi, making a Shivalinga out of the sacred lands, doing sankalpa, abhishekam and immersing the linga after puja in the ocean. This is an opportunity for me to serve dharma. This is also an opportunity for the Court to participate in the protection of Dharma.'

Dr. S. Kalyanaraman (11 May 2008)

Centre to study Supreme Court's suggestion to explore alternative alignment of Sethusamudram

Edwin 10/5/2008 3:39:52 PM(IST)

Chennai: Union Shipping and Highways Minister T R Baalu today said the Centre would study the Supreme Court''s suggestion to explore alternative alignments to implement the Sethusamudram Shipping Channel Project (SSCP) to avoid distruction of 'Ram Sethu'.

In a brief chat with newspersons here, he said the Supreme Court has given only a suggestion and not issued any directive. ''Its not a directive,'' he said, adding the government is yet to get details of what the apex court has said in its suggestion.
Once the details were received, the government would study them and take further steps, he said.

The Supreme Court on May eight, asked the Centre to explore the possibility of finding alternative alignments to implement the Rs 2,400 crore canal project, so that Ram Sethu is not damaged.

A three-judge bench headed by the Chief Justice also asked the Centre to inform the court whether any scientific study had been undertaken by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) to ascertain whether the 25-km long Ram Sethu, also known as Adam's Bridge, is a man made ancient structure of national heritage, as per the directions of Madras High Court.

Ram Sethu - Recent SC Order - Interview with Dr.Subramanian Swamy and Dr.S.Kalyanaraman (47 min. duration audio ; May 10, 2008 Interview by Sanatana Dharma Foundation of : Dr. Subramanian Swamy and Dr. S. Kalyanaraman)

Scrap Sethusamudram

The Pioneer Edit Desk

Declare Ram Setu ancient monument

The directions issued by the Supreme Court on Thursday in the Ram Setu case are most welcome for they show that it has taken cognisance of the sensitivities involved in the matter. The Supreme Court has rightly sought to know about the possibility of conducting an archaeological study to ascertain whether Ram Setu can be declared an ancient monument under the definition of the existing law. In doing this, the Supreme Court has reminded the UPA Government of a directive by the Madras High Court that the Archaeological Survey of India should carry out investigations to determine whether or not Ram Setu is an ancient monument. This is an important issue as a declaration that Ram Setu is an ancient monument or an archaeological site containing material of historical importance would bring it under the protection of The Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1958. A declaration to this effect would automatically preserve Ram Setu from destruction through dredging needed for the creation of a shipping channel through the Palk Strait. Such a declaration is not impossible for the definition of an ancient monument or an archaeological site under the Act is perhaps wide enough to include not just artificial edifices but also formations whose antiquity it may be impossible for science to determine. The Supreme Court Bench, headed by Chief Justice KG Balakrishnan, has also asked the Centre to explore whether an alternative alignment can be considered for the Sethusamudram Ship Channel project. As will be recalled, the project proposes to link the Palk Bay with the Gulf of Mannar through the narrow body of water between India and Sri Lanka. This was to be done by dredging a channel through the shallow seas and destroying Ram Setu, also known as Adam's Bridge. While the project ostensibly aims to create a shorter route around the Indian peninsula, it has been vehemently opposed across the country on religious, environmental and economic grounds. By far, the most important ground for spiking the project is that it mocks at popular faith.

Ram Setu has considerable significance for Hindus as it is believed to have been created by Hanuman's Vaanar Sena to enable Ram to rescue Sita from Ravan in Lanka. It is intrinsically linked to the Ramayan tradition and for millions of Hindus, it is inseparable from their cultural identity and, therefore, is venerated. This is the way it has been for centuries and it makes no sense to repudiate popular faith for a dubious project being pushed by individuals with a dubious reputation. The Supreme Court has, in its own way, suggested a solution to the problem which is entirely the creation of the UPA Government. Had Prime Minister Manmohan Singh not been so pathetically helpless in dealing with allies of the Congress, in this instance the DMK, matters would not have come to such a pass. Nor would the Government have questioned the authenticity of the Ramayan tradition and cast aspersions on the sincerity of Hindu faith, thus unleashing outrage across the country. That was not the deed of a Government acting with conviction, but a weak regime succumbing to the blackmail of those who stand to lose if the project is scrapped. The Government can now redeem itself by acting in an honourable manner: First, it must declare Ram Setu a protected monument; and, second, it should call off the project which has generated so much anger and disquiet. How this impacts certain DMK worthies is of no consequence to the nation.


The Supreme Court observation that the Madras High Court Order of 19.6.07 on my Writ Petition must be honoured and complied with, which directs that the government conduct an investigation by the ASI to find out if the Rama Setu can be declared as an Ancient Monument of National Importance and also to explore other ship channel alignment that does not damage the Rama Setu, is a historic achievement for the long suffering one billion Hindus. Let now the super secularists, the proselytizing covert missionaries and dissolute atheists of India now recognise that the Hindu has stood up and will no more stomach any more sacrilege against the Hindu religion. Henceforth, we Hindus will bring to bear our intellectual resources to energise our tottering democratic system and cleanse public life of all parasites, pirates, and buccaneers who have been bleeding the Hindu civilisation. A Hindu renaissance is now unstoppable.
We don't go to sun to worship it, Swamy tells apex court
New Delhi, May 8 (IANS) The Supreme Court Wednesday had to contend with a blunt answer to its poser as to who goes to the Rama Sethu in the sea to worship it. "We all worship the sun. But we don't go to the sun to worship it," said former union minister Subramanian Swamy.
Speaking before the bench of Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan, Swamy passionately opposed the proposed construction of a shorter navigational sea route around the Indian peninsula if it involved the destruction of the Rama Sethu or Adam's Bridge.
The bench, which also included Justice R.V. Raveendran and Justice J.M. Panchal, wanted to know last week if anyone takes to the sea to reach the Rama Sethu to worship it if it indeed had religious value.
The Janata Party president argued against the proposed breaching of the Rama Sethu due to dredging and its fallout on economy, environment and security besides of course the religious sensibilities of Hindus.
He narrated a series of five "strange coincidences" that occurred after a Dutch dredging machine deployed to breach the Rama Sethu broke down.
When a crane was pressed into service to retrieve the broken arms of the dredging machine from the sea, that too broke down, said Swamy.
The authorities then tried to conduct the retrieving operation by pressing into service another crane with the name of Hindu god Hanuman written over it. "But that too did not work."
After that the authorities summoned a Russian expert for the dredging operation but he ended up breaking both his legs, said Swamy.
And much to the amusement of the bench, he added: "Subsequently, a formal worship was organised. But a Tamil Nadu legislator who performed the worship died of heart attack the next day."
To this, the bench asked Swamy: "What do you expect from us?"
Swamy responded: "My Lord, please hold that the issue of Rama Sethu involves the religious faith and belief. Scrap the Sethusamudram Shipping Canal Project if the government is unable or unwilling to alter the alignment of the proposed channel and ensure that the bridge is not breached."
The former minister took pain to explain that he was not against a shorter navigational sea route per se. "Anything that touches the Rama Sethu, I am against it."
When Swamy pointed out that ship passengers could dump beef while passing through the Rama Sethu, Justice Raveendran censured him, saying: "You have already put a very strong fundamental argument. You are only devaluing that by your secondary one."
Earlier, Swamy said that section 295 of the Indian Penal Code provided for a jail term of two years on conviction to anyone defiles or damages a place of worship.
He asserted that under the same section no authority can sanction a project which involves damage or defilement of a place of worship.
And to prove that the Rama Sethu had religious value to Hindus, Swamy cited government documents that refer to the mythological bridge between India and Sri Lanka.
Among the government documents that Swamy quoted included a book tabled in parliament and released by the Prime Minister's Office.
He also cited a Tamil Nadu government advertisements on trains that say that the waters off Rameshwaram island "still carry the blessings of Lord Rama's Lotus feet because this is where from His monkey army crossed over to Sri Lanka to rescue Sita".

"Expert comm to review Sethu project biased"

PTI | New Delhi

Posted online: May 07, 2008

The expert committee appointed by the Centre to review the Sethusamudram project was biased, suppressed data and resisted archaeological probe to arrive at truth that Rama Setu was a man-made structure, Janata Party Chief Subramanium Swamy on Wednesday alleged in the Supreme Court.

He supported his contention by bringing on record the admission made by the Centre and Tamil Nadu Government in different documents to recognise "Rama Setu" as a place of religious significance for Hindus.

The existence of bridge has not been disputed, Swamy said referring to the affidavit filed by the Sethusamudram Corporation Ltd in which it said that a gallery or platform would be built around the Rama Setu so that people can come there and pay obeisance according to their religious belief.

Further the Prime Minister Office has tabled a document in Parliament containing the photograph taken by the remote sensing satellite on Rama Setu and has stated that the mythology attached to it suggests that the structure was man-made, he said.

"Government has plenty of research material to say that Rama Setu is constructed but it is not admitting," the senior politician said before a Bench headed by Chief Justice KG Balakrishnan.

He said DMK Government in Tamil Nadu, which wants the project to be pushed by demolishing "Rama Setu" has also recognised that Lord Rama had put his foot at the place and vanaras helped him to make the bridge to reach Sri Lanka.

This was clear from the advertisement of Tamil Nadu Government for Indian Railways, he said and elaborated that the effort of the Sri Lankan Government to promote tourism in the name of Lord Rama and Ramayana suggests the holiness of the place.

Swamy alleged that the committee appointed by the Centre to review the project can't be considered as expert panel as four of its members were attached to the project in one way or the other.

R Ramachandran, Chairman of the expert committee, had bowed before Karunanidhi, when he sat in protest in Chennai on October 1 last year against the apex court's order staying the demolition of the Rama Setu, he said and showed his photograph to the Bench.

Swamy contended geological research has proved that the causeway called Rama Setu was not a natural formation. "Prima facie case exists that Rama Setu is man-made because rocks could not have been brought there," he said.

"Why they (expert committee) are resisting archaeological investigation. Government should be forthcoming to say it will hold archaeological inquiry," he submitted before the Bench that also comprised Justices RV Raveendran and JM Panchal.

Must religious beliefs impede development, wonders apex court
May 6th, 2008
New Delhi, May 6 (IANS) The Supreme Court, hearing arguments on the Ram Setu and a shipping canal project, Tuesday wondered if religious beliefs should be allowed to impede modernisation and development of the country. Its observation came as lawyers argued before it that the dredging of the Ram Setu to develop a shorter navigational sea route around the Indian peninsula would go against religious beliefs, which enjoy constitutional protection and cannot be allowed to be disturbed.
The court resumed hearing the arguments on the vexed issue of the Ram Setu and the Setusamudram Shipping Channel Project Tuesday.
Ram Setu, also known as Adam’s Bridge, is a chain of limestone shoals 48 kms long. Many Hindus believe that it was built during Lord Ram’s era to facilitate his journey from southern India to Sri Lanka.
“But people consider even earth as mother and worship it; does it mean there should be no construction on it? They even worship the Himalayas, does that mean no stone can be removed from there?” asked the bench.
“How will it make a difference if 300 metres of the Ram Setu is cut (to make the passage for the ships)?” it asked.
One answer to the poser came from senior counsel C.S. Vaidyanathan, who said: “It will destroy the fundamental character of the bridge. A bridge is a bridge because it joins two land masses. If a part of this is destroyed, it will no longer be a bridge.”
To make himself clear, he cited the example of judicial independence.
“The court decides all cases on its merit. If it is provided that courts will decide 99.99 percent of cases on its merit but it will decide the remaining cases as per the government directions, will there be any judicial independence left?” Vaidyanathan asked.
Senior counsel Soli Sorabjee said: “A religious belief, which is genuinely and conscientiously held over a long period by a substantial number of adherents of a particular religion, becomes an integral part of that religion and is entitled to protection under Article 25 of the constitution.”
He added that, unless found mitigating with public order or morality, a religious belief cannot even be subjected to any restriction for the sake of “public interest” as the constitutional freedom of speech and expression is subjective.
Sorabjee pointed out to the bench that freedom of religion also implies freedom to practice various rites and rituals associated with it and state has no authority to interfere with or ban those practices.
“It cannot be seriously questioned that it is the genuine and conscientious religious belief of the Hindus that the Ram Setu was constructed by Lord Ram and his followers, who crossed over the bridge to Sri Lanka and rescued Sita from the clutches of demon king Ravan. That indeed is the essential theme of the Ramayana, which is an article of faith for Hindus,” he added.
“The issue before this court is not whether this belief can be historically or scientifically established. The court cannot sit in judgement over beliefs.
“The court’s role is to determine if the belief about the Ram Setu is conscientiously held over a period of time by Hindus and, if that be so, it falls within the ambit of the freedom of religion guaranteed by Article 25,” he added.
Pointing out that the Ram Setu is worshipped by Hindus at Rameshwaram, Sorabjee said: “Any state action, which results in impairment or even partial destruction of the Ram Setu, would lead to extinction or diminution of their right to worship the Ram Setu and it would violate their constitutional guarantee of freedom of religion,” said Sorabjee, summing up his argument.



Satya Prakash


Former Union Minister Subramanian Swamy on Wednesday assailed the Tamil Nadu government for taking contradictory stands before the Supreme Court on jallikatu (bull fight) and Ram Setu, saying it should be consistent in its stands involving religious beliefs.

“How can the government take different stands when both issues – jallikatu and Ram Setu – have religious beliefs attached to them”, Swamy asked during the hearing of petitions against the Sethusamudram project. The state government had spoken of religious sentiments of people to persuade the Court to allow jallikatu, the Janata Party President pointed out. “Howsoever high and mighty the Supreme Court may be, it cannot decide what is sacred”, he added.

To a question posed last week by a Bench headed by the Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan, about who goes to the Ram Setu inside the sea to worship it, Swamy replied: “We all worship the Sun. But we don’t go to the Sun to worship it”.

He said destroying the Ram Setu would adversely affect the Nation’s economy, environment and security besides, of course, the religious sensibilities of over 100 crore Hindus. He alleged the experts committee appointed by the Centre was biased, had suppressed data and resisted an archaeological probe to ascertain if the Setu was manmade. He said the PMO had tabled a document in Parliament containing a photograph taken by a remote sensing satellite of the Ram Setu and stating that the mythology attached to it suggests the structure was manmade.

Swamy said several structures and places in India have been declared protected monuments because religious faith is attached to them. He cited the Brahma Sarovar in Kurukshetra, where Lord Brahma is said to have taken a bath and Majuli Island in Assam, where Lord Krishna is said to have danced with the Gopis. Similarly, Ram Setu should be declared a protected monument, he argued.

Can Ram Sethu be declared a monument, asks SC

May 08, 2008 | 18:44 IST

The Supreme Court on Thursday asked the Centre to explore the possibility of conducting an archaeological survey as directed by the Madras high court to ascertain
whether Ram Sethu could be declared an ancient monument.

While adjourning the matter for July 22, a Bench headed by Chief Justice K G Balakrishanan said in the meantime the Centre could also explore the possibility of carrying out the Sethusamudram project through other channels (alignments).

Earlier in the day, former Union minister and Janata Party president Dr Subramanian Swamy prayed to the three-judge bench comprising Chief Justice Balakrishnan
and Justices R V Raveendran and J M Panchal to refer the petitions to the five-judge constitution bench for an authoritative pronouncement on the issue.

The Janata Party president also pleaded for issuing a notice to Union Shipping and Transport Minister T R Baalu, to initiate contempt of court proceedings against him for making derogatory and contemptous remarks against the sitting judge Justice B N Agrawal for dragging the Tamil Nadu government into the controversy while directing the authorities, on August 31, 2007, not to damage Ram Sethu in any manner while carrying out dredging activities for the completion of the Sethusamudram canal project.

Swamy made it clear in court that his only concern was the protection of Ram Sethu and if the central government was prepared to give an undertaking that the 25-km long Sethu shall not be demolished, he would immediately withdraw his petition .

Swamy also told the court that the central government had not taken any permission from the Sri Lankan government for completing the canal which would connect the Rameshwaram coast in Tamil Nadu to Sri Lanka and the Sri Lankan government could go to the International Court of Justice in this issue.

Swamy concluded by telling the court that the Centre was ignoring the advice of its own committee and had also overlooked the concerns expressed by Naval chief, Admiral Sureesh Mehta, and Director-General, Coast Guard, according to whom this canal would facilitate Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam activites in India.

Additional Reportage: UNI

Sethusamudram case in the Supreme Court: Soli Sorabjee's submission
The Sethusamudram case (Rama Gopalan v. Union of India) came up for regular hearing before the Bench comprising the Chief Justice, Justices Raveendran and J.M.Panchal.
Today Soli J.Sorabjee and K.Parasaran (on behalf of petitioners) made their submissions.

Soli Sorabjee said a religious belief, which is genuinely and conscientiously held over a long period of time by a substantial number of adherents or followers of a particular religion becomes an integral part of that religion and is entitled to protection under Article 25 of the Constitution. This, of course, is subject to the requirement that the practice and profession of the belief is not contrary to public order, morality or health. He said it was noteworthy that no restriction can be placed on freedom of religion on the ground that the restriction is “in the interest of general public” as in the case of Articles 19(5) and 19 (6).

He said it cannot be seriously questioned that it is the genuine and conscientious religious belief of the Hindus that Ram Sethu was constructed by Lord Ram and his followers. The issue before the Court is not whether this belief can be historically and scientifically established. The Court cannot sit in judgment over that belief. The Court’s role is to determine whether the aforesaid belief is genuinely or conscientiously held over a period of time by Hindus and if that be so it falls within the ambit of the freedom of religion guaranteed by Article 25. The right to worship and make offerings and perform rites at Ram Sethu is in pursuance of the integral belief of the adherents of Hindu religion; therefore, any State action which results in impairment or even partial destruction of Ram Sethu and leads to extinction or diminution of the right to worship at Ram Sethu as at present is per se violative of the guarantee of freedom of religion, Sorabjee said.

He pointed out that the expression “any object held sacred by any class of persons” in Section 295 of IPC has been construed by the Supreme Court to include any object however trivial or destitute of any real value in itself, if it is regarded as sacred by any class of persons, to be covered by this section. Citing S.Veerabadran Chettiar v. E.V.Ramaswami Naicker (1959 SCR 1211 at 1217 and 1218), he said the Court had emphasized that it is immaterial whether Courts share those beliefs or whether they are rational or otherwise in the opinion of the Court.

Sorabjee’s argument provoked Justice Raveendran to say that beliefs and rituals are not a subject matter here. To this, Sorabjee replied that the object of worship cannot be taken away. Justice Raveendran asked: “ Hindus worship Bhoomimata, does it mean earth cannot be touched? Rivers like Narmada and Ganges are worshipped. Does it mean you can’t touch them. They are not demolishing Ram Setu. Just 300 meters of the Setu will be touched. Should it be considered demolition or change, without affecting belief. Himalayas are also worshipped. So what is your principle? Tirumala hills are held sacred, does it mean you cannot build a road there?”

Sorabjee first said his colleagues, C.S.Vaidynathan and Parasaran will answer this question, and he would only give a legal answer. Sorabjee said you cannot do anything which changes the essential character of the object, being worshipped. Justice Raveendran then asked what was the test. “Is it one handful of sand, or 300 meters?” Clearly exasperated, Sorabjee then said “we are not concerned with mountains, lakes etc. Ram Setu has special significance”.


When the Rama Sethu cases were heard by the Supreme Court last month, it asked two brilliant questions, "Is Rama Sethu a place of worship?" and "Who goes to the middle of the sea and worship a place, which is under water?" hurting the religious sentiments of Hindu majority, which led to widespread condemnations. After a brief adjournment, when the hearing continued last week, the learned counsels of the petitioners established the importance of Rama Sethu as a place of worship. On Tuesday, when the case came up for hearing, Soli Sorabjee appearing for S.Kalyanaraman and Parasaran appearing for Ramagopalan presented their arguments based on Article 25, which deals with the Freedom of Religion. In course of the argument the learned judges of the Supreme Court have again hurt the sentiments of the Hindu majority by asking another brilliant question "whether even a small portion of Ramar Sethu (300 meters) can't be touched for purposes of development? In our country, the Himalayas, Goverdhan and Tirupathi hills, rivers and land (Boo Matha) are all worshipped. Do you mean to say that the land can't be touched, dams can't be constructed across rivers and hills can't be touched for stones?

The cultural and religious tradition of this great country is that, we do not differentiate between God and Nature and we worship Nature, as God. This is also the reason for our lives and habitat mingling well with nature. We plough and cultivate in the lands; we construct Temples using stones and sand; we sculpt our deities using different varieties of stones; we use waters from different rivers; all these things do not mean that we commit sacrilege on them! We use them, we get things out of them for our livelihood and we live because of them and hence we repay our debts by worshipping them and thanking them. Also, after constructing a temple, we do not demolish it; after sculpting a deity and doing poojas, we do not throw it. We preserve them. We even reconstruct or renovate the dilapidated temples and we don't leave them to ruins. When we value a 'human' construction so much, how much of value would we attach to a magnificent bridge constructed by the God himself? We worship the soil at Rama Janma Bhoomi, because Bhagwan Rama was born there and that is why we want to construct a temple for him there. Our forefathers had constructed a temple in Mathura, because Bhagwan Krishna lived there. So, by constructing bridges across rivers and by touching hillock for stones, we do not disrespect them, but, by removing even a single stone or a slab or a small part from those divine structures, we certainly sacrilege it. Hence, we do not want to damage Rama Sethu and we want to protect it. It is the 'faith' that matters here and the Court has no business in questioning it.

The Honourable Judges have also asked, "Even cows are being worshipped by the Hindus all over the country and would that warrant a ban on Cow Slaughter?" Yes, of course! We also worship certain birds and animals, as they happen to be the 'Vaahanaas' of our Gods and Goddesses. The Cow has the special significance of having all the 'Devatas' within it, in different parts of its body. We worship it for giving us milk for our daily use and dung and urine for making natural medicines. We don't kill even the aged and tired cows and allow them to die a natural death. As we have been worshipping cows for ages, it certainly warrants a ban on cow slaughter.

Senior Lawyer Soli Sorabjee articulated well on Article 25 and when his successor Advocate Parasaran reminded the Honourable Supreme Court about Sorabjee's detailed references on Valmiki Ramayana, the learned judges have again asked. "Do you expect judges also to become experts by reading these volumes?" One wonders if any 'legal' expert would ask such a question! They hear cases from various fields and there is no necessity for them to become experts in all those fields, but there is indeed a necessity for them to respect and listen to the expert opinions. The matter of contention here is Rama Sethu and Sage Valmiki's opinions are certainly important and relevant, as he was an expert and authority on Ramayana. But, it doesn't mean the Judges have to be well versed with it. Like how the Lawyers have a legal obligation to present their arguments based on merits, the Judges have a judicial responsibility to hear those arguments. The same interest, which was shown to throw a question, must also be shown to listen to the answer! Lawyer Parasaran had asserted, "The present case involves two aspects of the public interest namely 'Faith' and 'Development' and the Court must attempt to accommodate both aspects of the public interest. But there is complete abdication of responsibility and non-application of mind by the government."

In course of the arguments, the learned counsel had unfortunately, given some fodder to the secular brigade by saying, "The Babri demolition at Ayodhya is a 'scar' on Indian secularism that will never be removed. Similarly breaking Ramar Sethu will also leave a permanent scar on the Hindu faith and belief". This statement equating Rama Sethu with Babri structure is sadly a Himalayan blunder, as it might have an impact on the Rama Janma Bhoomi case. Probably the lawyer would have assumed that arguing on a 'secular' perspective would impress the Judges. When we have a strong case on the basis of religious freedom, why harp on secularism? This goes to show the sad and sordid fact that, the Hindu majority of this great Hindu nation has to rely on 'secularism' to defend its matters of faith at the Courts of Law, while the minorities enjoy full and complete freedom without any hitches.

The observation on Babri structure was an obvious mistake. To err is human and hence it must be forgotten. At the same time, the secular brigade must not be allowed to carry on this line of argument for their advantage in the Rama Janma Bhoomi case, which has been already in the Courts of Law for years. It must be clarified and ascertained again that, Babri-building had never been a worshipping place and it was a structure built by the invaders on the ruins after demolishing a Temple. The ASI's excavations have proved beyond doubt that, not one but two temples have existed before the Babri-structure was built. Reference must have been made about the Janma bhoomi instead of the disputed structure, because Rama Sethu constructed by Rama is as sacred as the bhoomi where he was born and that both have to be protected as places of worship. This line of argument would have added value to Ayodhya case and helped the cause of Ram Temple too, but equating Babri-structure and Rama Sethu had indeed dented it. When this great land is aggrieved with plenty of unhealed wounds, what is the need for talking about a non-existent scar? Babri-structure is a non-existent scar, where as, Janma Bhoomi is an unhealed wound. Bharat, the Punya Bhoomi, has thousands of such unhealed wounds through out its landscape, for each and every Islamic structure have been built by the invaders on the ruins of Hindu Temples after demolishing them. By hurling hurting questions on the wounded majority, the Supreme Court has added 'insult' to 'injury'! We have already lost thousands of worshipping places and we need to protect the existing ones and try to regain the lost ones. It is all matters of 'Faith' and faith has to be 'built' and 'protected'. Ayodhya must be built, Rama Sethu must be protected and both the causes must be fought for simultaneously, for Rama is Bharat and Bharat is Rama!

-B.R.Haran (May 8, 2008)

Satya Prakash, Hindustan Times

New Delhi, May 08, 2008
First Published: 21:32 IST(8/5/2008)
Last Updated: 00:58 IST(9/5/2008)
Find a way around Ram Setu, Govt told
In a setback to the UPA government’s ambitious Setusamudram Shipping Canal Project, the Supreme Court on Thursday asked it to conduct an archaeological investigation to find out if ‘Ram Setu’ could be declared an ‘ancient monument’.
A bench headed by Chief Justice of India K.G. Balakrishnan also asked the government to explore the possibility of adopting some alternative route/alignment for completing it without damaging the Ram Setu, as suggested by the petitioners opposing the project.
“There is a specific direction of the Madras High Court that the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) should carry out investigations whether Ram Setu is an ancient monument or not,” the bench said. The court had already ordered that no damage be caused to the Ram Setu.
The latest development virtually puts the project — being pushed by UPA ally DMK — in a limbo. The government cannot proceed without presenting before the court the findings of the ASI and its decision regarding alternative routes. The ASI will examine if the Setu could be declared an ancient monument under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1958.
In a way, the UPA government that had to withdraw its earlier affidavit denying the existence of Ram and Ram Setu as a manmade structure would heave a sigh of relief. It may indeed lose a few brownie points to the Opposition.
But at the same time, the Centre can put the issue on the backburner without offending the DMK, as the process ordered by the court may not be complete before the next round of assembly elections and the general election.
The court noted that Janata Party president Subramanium Swamy and Hindu Munnani senior advocate C.S. Vaidyanathan had advanced "serious" arguments for conducting an
ASI probe and for taking forward the project through some other route. The two and others opposed to the project submitted that they wouldn't oppose the project if it could be completed without damaging the Setu.
They argued that alternative alignments would be economically more viable and won't cause damage to the environment besides respecting the religious faith of crores of Hindus.
Vaidyanathan had suggested a route through Dhanushkodi by removing the landmass in an area of about 800 metres. It could start from where the present route i.e. alignment no.6 begins in the Gulf of Mannar and take a turn towards Dhanushkodi in the southern part of Rameshwaram island and finally meet the same alignment in the Palk Bay to avoid the Ram Setu' altogether. The court posted the case for hearing on July 22.

‘UPA government should take court ruling seriously’
May 9th, 2008
Bhopal, May 9 (IANS) Senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader and Madhya Pradesh election incharge Venkaiah Naidu Friday urged the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government to consider seriously the observations of the Supreme Court with regard to the Ram Setu…
Commenting on the observations of the Supreme Court in the context of the Ram Setu, Naidu said the UPA government should take its observations seriously and respect the sentiments of the people.

'Karunanidhi to be blamed if Sethu project doesn't take off' (The Hindu, 6 May 2008)
New Delhi (PTI): Actor-politician Vijayakant-led DMDK on Tuesday said Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi would to be blamed if the controversial Sethusamudram Project did not take off.
"If at all Sethusamudram project does not take off, the person to be blamed is Karunanidhi. The credit goes to him. Who asked him to hurt the sentiments of the people by criticising Lord Ram," Vijayakant told reporters here today.
He also urged the Centre to take steps to do a research on the disputed structure, which is considered as 'sacred' by Hindus.
Asked whether he believed that the BJP was a communal party, he shot back, "these questions should be asked to Karunanidhi. He can answer you very well because he has shared power with the BJP for almost five years."
"He can give a better answer. He has been with the BJP, now he is with the Congress and....," he said.
Friday, 9 May 2008
'Sethu will facilitate LTTE'
India: Former Union minister Dr Subramaniam Swamy today told the Supreme Court that national security would be compromised if the Sethusamudram canal project is completed ignoring the warnings given by the Navy Chief as well as director of coast guards according to whom the canal would facilitate the LTTE's activities in India.
Dr Swamy told a bench comprising chief justice K G Balakrishnan and Justices R V Raveendrtan J M Panchal that the canal project would help the LTTE to shift its base to Cochin and they will have easy and direct access from Jaffna to Cochin, Kerala.
According to him the government was ignoring expert opinion that the Sethusamudram canal project in its present form would not be conducive for the smooth flow of ships. In the present case the Tamil Nadu Maritime Board and coast guards have not been taken into confidence.


Dr Subramanya Swamy keep your good work going on!

Our secularism is wicked. Not just wicked but wretched too! For the past well over 60 years we have unmindfully surrogate ourselves with crooked Marxists, self styled and self proclaimed Intellectuals. They were beating the drums of secularism facing one side of the Nation ignoring the other side. As a result our intellectuals came under a fear cloud. Every word spoken against Hindus, every rhetoric and caricature against Hindus were acclaimed as Secularism and any support to any form to any genuine grievance of Hindus were dubbed as communal. This off late has grown in to a fear psychosis. This fear grips not only the media, and public forums but even the highest bodies.

The more you outburst against Hindus and Hindu sentiments the more the chances you are acclaimed as secular.

Dr Swamy was questioned “are you visiting the site (Ramar Sethu) and offering worships”?

The news got an extensive coverage. The so called intellectuals and Secular preachers probably would have felt immense satisfaction and have full faith in our “secular judiciary”.

Now Dr Swamy has since put the things properly expressed his torment and wondered how no evidence been sought for, nor the beliefs were questioned in the case of Hazrathbal and Babri Masjid issue.

Once mortified then things would move in its proper direction. Now the Apex court has directed the Government to look in to the Historical aspects of Ram Sethu before taking any further decision on the issue.

Sorry Lord Ram, you are always at the mercy of our Constitution.

Thanks Dr Swamy for your relentless efforts for the cause of Hindus Self pride and respect.

KRISHNA BAALU/09-05-2008

May 18, 2008

SC on Ram Sethu
Big vindication for Save Ram Sethu campaign
The Supreme Court’s order has come as an encouragement for the groups opposed to destruction of the Ram Sethu. Janata Party president Dr. Subramanian Swamy, a petitioner in the case, told the Organiser that the apex court’s order was binding on the government in the light of the recent Madras High Court order.
Explore alternative alignments; Ask ASI to study historicity of Ram Sethu; Can it be a national monument, SC asks center

The Supreme Court on May 8 asked the union government to consider holding an archaeological survey to ascertain whether the Ram Sethu can be declared an “ancient monument”. The court also asked the centre to examine the possibility of carrying out the project through other alignments.

“There is a specific direction of the Madras High Court that the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) should carry investigations whether Ram Sethu is an ancient monument or not,” a bench headed by Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan said. “You also explore the possibility of carrying out the project through any other channels (alignments),” the bench, also comprising Justices R.V. Raveendran and J.M. Panchal, said.

The Supreme Court’s order has come as an encouragement for the groups opposed to destruction of the Ram Sethu. Janata Party president Dr. Subramanian Swamy, a petitioner in the case, told the Organiser that the apex court’s order was binding on the government in the light of the recent Madras High Court order.

HE matter will come up for further hearing on July 22. The bench said that in the interregnum, the centre could consider these two aspects as directed by the High Court on June 19 last year. Appearing for the centre to defend the controversial project, senior advocate Fali S Nariman responded positively to the court’s view.

Arguing against the demolition of the Ram Sethu, Dr. Swamy, senior advocate C.S. Vaidyanathan and others contended that there was a possibility of going ahead with the project through alternative alignments, which would be economically more viable and cause no damage to environment. It would also protect the religious faith of Hindus who consider the structure as sacred, they submitted.

A three-judge bench also suggested the centre to explore the possibility of a study by Archaeological Survey of India to determine if the Ram Sethu could be classified as an ancient monument.

The observations of Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan and Justices R.V. Raveendran and J.M. Panchal should encourage the assorted group of Hindutva activists and environmentalists who have opposed the Sethu project for diverse reasons.

After two days of discussions on the Sethu—believed to have been built by Lord Rama to cross into Ravana’s kingdom—the bench asked senior advocate Fali S Nariman to urge the centre to examine the viability of an alternative alignment.

Though not binding, the suggestions—coming in response to passionate arguments on behalf of petitioners accusing the centre of disregarding the belief of millions to please UPA partner DMK—can add to the reluctance of an already wary Congress on whether to go ahead with the politically sensitive project.

The government has in any case been on the back foot since the affidavit in the apex court questioning the existence of Lord Rama.

Congress may be constrained to appear sensitive for the alternative alignment now that it has been endorsed by the apex court.

The desirability of the alignment of the Rs 2,400 crore project that proposes dredging a channel having a width of 300 metres on Ram Sethu to shorten the shipping distance between the western and eastern coast ports has been questioned also by environmentalists, economists and security analysts.

However, it is the “matter of faith for 100 crore Hindus” argument put forward by the Hindutva organisations that is proving to be the chief deterrent.

The suggestion came from the bench after Janata Party president Dr. Subramanian Swamy, in his arguments over two days, pointed out the fallacies in the decision of the government to go ahead with the project ostensibly under pressure from coalition ally DMK.

What prompted the apex court to give these suggestions was the Madras High Court order of June 19 last year asking the government to conduct an in-depth study by ASI and consideration of an alternative alignment without harming the Ram Sethu.

With the court’s interim order restraining any dredging on Ram Sethu till further orders continuing to operate, this long adjournment along with the suggestions for an in-depth ASI study and consideration of an alternative alignment would be sure to delay the project, despite the government expressing its keen desire and filing an application in the apex court seeking vacation of the interim stay order.

Senior advocates K. Parasaran, Soli J. Sorabjee, C.S. Vaidyanathan, Sriram Panchu and M. Krishnanmani, who appeared for different petitioners, had stressed on the religious significance of Ram Sethu among Hindus and had apprehended that any dredging could bring in a catastrophic situation akin to the one seen after the demolition of Babri structure.

Dr. Subramanian Swamy had alleged that the government-appointed expert committee resisted the ASI probe that the structure was man-made. While the senior politician was questioning the committee report, the bench said his request in the petition was confined only to the Ram Sethu but he was arguing on entire Sethusamudram project. At this Dr. Swamy said, “If I prove that the project is illegal, then the Ram Sethu will be protected.”

He said the Sri Lankan authorities were watching the outcome of the proceedings in the apex court and Colombo may drag India to International Court of Justice, The Hague, seeking independent probe about the environmental impact of the project.

The 34-member advisory committee group constituted by the Sri Lankan government has concluded that environment impact assessment by India on the Sethusamud-ram project was inadequate, the Janata Party president claimed.

Victory of lord rama’s narasena over upa asuras

Fri, 09 May, 2008 , 02:50 PM (Newstoday, V. Sundaram)
Islam-embracing, Christianity- coveting and Hindu-destroying UPA Government under the combined stranglehold of a non-Hindu like Sonia Gandhi on the one hand and an atheistic anti-Rama like Karunanidhi on the other, received a secular death blow in the Supreme Court yesterday when the Court directed the Government of India to explore the possibility of an in-depth study of the Sethu by the Archeological Survey of India. The Supreme Court also asked senior advocate Fali S. Nariman to impress upon the Government of India to examine the viability of an alternative alignment. This advice came from the Bench after Janata Party President Dr.Subramanian Swamy graphically exposed the fundamental fallacies in the decision of the Government of India to go ahead with the SSCP ostensibly under unbearable political pressure from its anti-Rama and anti-Hindu ally DMK. Justice Balakrishnan said ‘We don’t say anything on merits. But you can explore the possibility of alternative alignment for the Channel. By this the Government can avoid the controversy’ .
On the petitions filed by Dr.Subramanian Swamy and Rama Gopalan of Hindu Munnani, the Madras High Court on June 19, 2007 asked the Government of India ‘You file a counter-affidavit explaining whether any study has been undertaken by the Archeological Survey of India (ASI) or any other Department concerned in respect of Adam’s Bridge/Ramar Sethu and whether the said bridge can be regarded as a National Monument. The Union of India should also explain whether the said Project (SSCP) can be implemented without affecting Ramar Sethu by resorting to some other routes.’ Since no affidavit had been filed by the Government of India on the above 2 points raised by Madras High Court even after the lapse 10 months ,the Chief Justice of India asked the Government of India to consider the points raised by Madras High Court in June 2007 and posted the matter for further hearing on July 22, 2008. In conclusion, the Madras High Court has given the following message not only to the UPA government but to all the Anti-Hindu Politicians and Political Parties of India: ‘There is no political virtue in evasion of concrete facts. No political courage in carefully planned and selected prejudice, regional or national. No political or social salvation in cultural, religious or spiritual ignorance.’
The UPA Government under the Hitler-like dictatorship of Sonia Gandhi has treated the directions given by the Madras High Court in June 2007 with supreme contempt for nearly 1 year. Yesterday the Supreme Court of India has asked the Government of India to take immediate follow-up action on the directions issued by Madras High Court last year in June 2007.
Here is an account of the happenings in the Supreme Court during the last few days on Rama Setu protection case and the consequent introspections on why Rama Setu should be protected despite the bogus, baseless arguments advanced on grounds of non-existent abhyudayam. When Supreme Court asked Senior Advocate Shri Parasaran as to why he was arguing on ‘this’ side (that is, the side of the petitioners seeking protection of Rama Setu and hence, Dharma), he responded emotionally that he is at the fag-end of his life and career and this was an opportunity provided for him to protect dharma and he also told the Court that this was an opportunity for the Court also to participate in this sacred responsibility of protecting dharma. When Court asked Dr. Subramanian Swamy how Supreme Court can overcome the jurisdiction problem of questioning policy decisions or economic issues, Dr. Swamy responded effectively and convincingly that it was incumbent on the court to intervene when a fraud or gross illegality can be demonstrated that the economic viability of the project was a fiction created with baseless data and that the project was fraudulent. He went on to demonstrate that the project will be in the red for Rs. 56 crores in Year 1 and Rs. 150 crores in Year 9 and thereafter using the figures given by the Union of India in their documents.
These losses are, in fact, understatements. The actual losses will be much larger if social costs are reckoned (as required under law), if maintenance dredging costs are fairly computed and if security costs (both capital and maintenance costs) are included in the project costs. Dr. Swamy also demonstrated the need to make Hon’ble TR Baalu a respondent because of conflict of interest with private familial involvement in stevedoring or marine product export companies.
Senior Advocate Soli Sorabjee responded effectively to the stupid question which stated that, the bhumaata is sacred, the mountains are sacred, Ganga is sacred, trees are sacred that this perception should not stop removal of stones or building of bridges. This was rebutted effectively citing the responsibility of the State under Article 25 to protect Religious Freedom and not to destroy, by desecration, the very character of the Rama Setu which is a bridge built by Rama to establish dharma. Not an inch, not a piece of rock from this ancient monument can be touched by any power on earth. Section 295 of Criminal Procedure Code makes it a cognizable offence to offend the sentiments of crores of Hindus worldwide. The Court was also told that Ganga Sagar and Sethu in the Indian Ocean are places of worship.
Skandapurana which is the sacred text of identified teerthasthaanas and puja vidhaanam, prescribed the worship of Rama Setu and the S’ivalinga installed in the middle of Rama Setu uttering Setumadhava and Ramanatha (Ashtakshari and Panchakshari mantras) and walking on the Setu. Every ashadha amavasya day every year, over 5 lakh pilgrims gather at the Setu tirtham and offer tarpanam to pitrus – ancestors are worshipped with the sankalpa which starts: Sri rama rama rameti… He is Maryada purushottama, Ramayana is the aadi kaavya, There can be no Ramayana without Setubandhana which is the very symbol of what can be accomplished with will and determination and the symbol of establishment and protection of dharma. This is a memory venerating Sri Rama as vigrahavaan dharmah (the very embodiment of dharma), the paramaatman in the role of an avatara to demonstrate dharma in action.
The battle has just begun. The Setu has to be declared as an Ancient Monument and World Heritage. Setu, which has protected the nation’s coastline and symbolizes the unity and integrity of the nation, cannot be desecrated like the Taliban demolishing the Bamiyan Buddha calling it mere stone. Setu also makes us remember Sri Rama, Vigrahavaan dharma, the very embodiment of dharma. Setu is not mere stone bridge, it is the very identity, the very core of Sanatana Dharma from time immemorial, the very embodiment of Dharma identity. It just cannot be touched even by cutting a one centimeter furrow.

So many multi-disciplinary issues were joined in the Supreme Court proceedings. Over 8000 pages of evidence and arguments and case laws were presented. The Court had the obligation to recognize the enormity and stupendous nature of this continuum of faith, belief and worship and respect the sentiments of crores of people, as a civil society and restoring the confidence of the people in the institutions which they have created to run this samajam. A fence cannot be allowed to eat away the crop.
Institutions exist only at the service of and at the responsibilities entrusted to these institutions by the people. Many teams of persons have contributed to this extraordinary Hindu unity and effort. Starting with Shri D. Kuppuramu who founded the Rameshwaram Rama Setu Protection Movement, Senior Advocate Shri TV Ramanujam, counsel for Shri Rama Gopalan of Hindu Munnani and Dr. Subramanian Swamy-they have all played a very important role in this effort. It was Dr. Subramanian Swamy who got the Chief Justice of Madras High Court to issue the directions of HC on 19 June 2007 asking for the declaration of Rama Setu as an Ancient Monument and to ask for proceeding with any project without demolishing or desecrating Rama Setu. This stand of the Madras High Court has just been re confirmed yesterday by the highest court of the land by the directions issued on these two momentous issues.The Veda Vyasa behind all this Himalayan effort and movement has been Dr.S.Kalyanaraman, a world authority on Saraswathi Civilization and Culture. The responsibility is enormous to use this opportunity given to us today by Sri Rama to educate the youngest nation of the world, the 35% of the population which is less than 15 years of age, to realize the great heritage of Dharma and the importance and significance of the two great Itihaasas, Ramayana, the Aadi kaavya and Mahabharata. Sri Rama, Sri Krishna and Sri Maheswara united north and south, east and west and across every nook and corner of Bharata Varsha. They adorn the lithographed version of the Constitution of India published by the Govt. of India with exquisite illustrations by the artist, Shri Nandalal Bose.
I interviewed Dr.Subramanian Swamy after his great triumph in the Supreme Court. Beaming with joy, he issued the following historic statement:. ‘The Supreme Court observation that the Madras High Court Order of 19.6.07 on my Writ Petition must be honoured and complied with, which directs that the government conduct an investigation by the ASI to find out if the Rama Setu can be declared as an Ancient Monument of National Importance and also to explore other ship channel alignment that does not damage the Rama Setu, is a historic achievement for the long sufferring one billion Hindus. Let now the super secularists, the proselytizing covert missionaries and dissolute atheists of India now recognize that the Hindu has stood up and will no more stomach any more sacrilege against the Hindu religion. Henceforth, we Hindus will bring to bear our intellectual resources to energise our tottering democratic system and cleanse public life of all parasites, pirates, and buccaneers who have been bleeding the Hindu civilization. A Hindu renaissance is now unstoppable.’

Sydney Sunday Herald, 11 May 2008

Excerpts: In 2005, UNESCO named the legend of the Ramayana and its relatedoral and cultural tradition on a list of 90 outstanding examples of the world's Intangible Cultural Heritage… UNDER UNESCO GUIDELINES FOR HERITAGE LISTING, RAM SETHU SHOULD BE ALLOCATED HERITAGE STATUS FOR ITS CULTURAL SIGNIFICANCE…Since culture is the highest expression of what it means to be human, the Ram Setu Bridge should be preserved and viewed as belonging to all humanity. (pdf document follows; title: ‘Bridge under troubled waters’).
Read this doc on Scribd: Sydneyheraldramasetu