August 01, 2021
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Ayodhya: The Least Bad Verdict

Ayodhya: The Least Bad Verdict

Sunil Khilnani in the Mint:

We should all be troubled by the Ayodhya decision—but troubled in a way that does not hasten us into self-righteous claims about what would have been the right or appropriate decision...

...The fact is, we’ve once again shunted over to the courts questions and tasks that they are neither designed to fulfil, nor should have to. This increasing reliance on the courts parallels our increasing resort to military and paramilitary forces to deal with domestic dissent. In both cases, the inflated demands we place on the judicial and coercive arms of the state are a symptom of a political failure: the failure to sustain a sense of political community across our citizenry... 

...Although forced into alien terrain, it does seem a pity that the court chose to set itself up as an arbiter on matters of religion and history. It could perfectly well have acknowledged the existence of deep and widely held beliefs among many (though not all) Hindus about the sacred character of one specific area of the site. Without claiming access to a GPS that can lead us to the exact address where divine delivery occurred—who really knows the exact spot where our favourite god may have decided to be born?—it could have registered the fact that many do hold such convictions about the precise location, and as such these fellow Indians and their views have a claim to recognition. The right of these Hindus to worship at their preferred site could be recognized and incorporated into the always complicated and the now battered-down architecture of the site—in ways that allow access and use, but without partition...

Read the full piece at Mint

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