The Ayodhya Verdict

The Question of Maturity

Bhaskar Majumdar

Many people say, the judgement delivered by the Apex Court in November 2019 on Mandir-Masjid issue with Ayodhya as the zone of decades-old conflict is a case of marutity. In other words immature Indian administration has reached maturity. But what does it mean really? For one thing faith is unquestionable. But if that faith gets shape of visible conflict between two religious groups and if it reaches the door of the Courts of law, first a High Court and then the Apex Court, the Court had/has to deliver. The alternative could have been to maintain equidistance from both the warring groups as a secular state does. The Court, assigned the responsibility to an esteemed three-member committee to show the path. The committee represented the civil society that took time to arrive at judicious decision. At the end, the matter came back to the Apex Court. The Apex Court finally delivered its judgement.

In Rostow's theory of development in Non-Community Manifesto, the "drive to maturity'' of an economy depends on many factors that take off. Most of the innocent people in Bharat walk on the ground—they are yet to take off. All the "determining'' opinions come from a tiny section that is frequent fliers. It seems a nice opinion that all have accepted the verdict, with innocence of course. The reality is, the 10.0 percent of the people in India at the most get involved in any such discourse—the rest of the people live in Bharat. The Bharatvasis are least bothered about the judgement (with full respect for the Judiciary).

But the Judgement was a necessity. What could have been the alternative—repetitive standoff between the "guided'' mass society and the sane society, or, further possibilities of conflicts-riots-genocide? If a Judgement offsets possibilities as such, that cannot be read as 'maturity of the country' and by country it is the people of India. It will be too risky to opine most of the people in India are immature. But it will not be risky if most of the people in Bharat are innocent. Whether one likes it or not one Bharat lives in different centuries. So if it is being opined in end-2019 that India has matured, one needs to respond on the question which century one is referring to. Surely 10.0 percent of the population in end-2019 have matured.

History of mankind shows two types within the top ten percent at any time: one that questions the modus operandi and the other that constitute the ruling intellectual force. Obviously the state needs the intellectual force that sings the song of the state. The ruling intellectual forces at any historical juncture remain untouchable for they are state-honoured or standing on the queue to be. This state pledges sovereignty vis-a-vis the states in the rest of the world.  It becomes easier to glorify the state in such a frame for these intellectual forces have nothing to do with the conditions of any other country/state like Bolivia, Iraq or elsewhere. What is lost in the process is development of world view around the neighbours—the neighbours are sister states.

Rather than delving into the more complicated international issues, let me come back to the national one. If a quote is like Ýeh pahela jhaki hai, Kashi-Mathura baaki hai', then who will dare to counter that? It was not countered on the ground—it went to the Judiciary. India is a nation not without fear—fear is all-pervasive. Often people at the bottom of the labour market feel forced to labour—though they remain mute. This forced labour includes not only the Muslim but also the Hindus for labour is an abstraction. Forced labour may generate anger within; in absence of any outlet, it may take trajectories unwarranted in civil society.

Whatever is forced is not real—in labour market it is not love's labour. When the Judgement is delivered, it becomes binding for all—in some sense the decision did not come from the society—the Judiciary had to enforce it through the state. If this is true, then natural maturity is lost. Let there be no difference of opinion that the Judgement is for all to accept—and so far nobody rejected the Judgement. But how could they? Already it came to the Apex Court through the High Court.  

Just as India that is Bharat lives in many centuries, so also it lives in many regions. The whole of Bharat is more than and different from the summation of these regions. In the Heartland that determines the political fate of India, people maintain silence; whatever they do or undo, they do it very quietly. The questions that could emerge because of public debate do not emerge.

Social equilibrium in silence is also social stagnation. Take off does not take place by silence. Of course, safety in take off is needed much more than when one drives a vehicle on the surface road. The vehicle is education-health that is religion-neutral. This safety is supposed to come from both the state and the civil society. Judiciary is the last resort.

All decisions cannot be debated instantaneously. Particularly when it involves Judiciary in India, it is a big 'No'. It took centuries for the society to get formed, fractured and re-formed. It is also not within the frontier of the judiciary to bring about social structural changes. In this context, what most can be opined is the general acceptance of the sanity of India's Judiciary. It has got nothing to do with the maturity of the people at large.

Even sanity also takes time to mature. It took more than a decade for the Apex Court to announce in November 2019 that the office of the Chief Justice of India comes under Right to Information Act, 2006. If the time scale is understood, it may be immature to opine that the country has attained maturity for that requires repetitive debates around time that gets activated by conscious participation of people. Undeniably India that is Bharat is a great civilisation that carried cosmic knowledge long before the Europeans got access to that knowledge. But greatness is different from maturity—the former is on infinite time while the latter is on finite time.

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Vol. 52, No. 25, Dec 22 - 28, 2019