Ayodhya verdict – a message of unity in diversity

The way this decades-old judicial process is concluded is exemplary, Prime Minister Narendra Modi called this verdict as “the beginning of a golden era for the judiciary of the country."

INDIAN PRIME MINISTER Narendra Modi and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meet last year.  (photo credit: REUTERS)
INDIAN PRIME MINISTER Narendra Modi and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meet last year.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Indian Supreme court’s historic verdict on the Ayodhya issue can be counted as one of the important milestones of our times. The verdict has demonstrated the inherent strength of the Indian culture that lies in the spirit of “unity in diversity,” which India is embracing for centuries. The Ayodhya verdict is unique in many ways, and its pre- and post-events present relevant learning for other parts of the world too.
A five-judge bench of the Indian Supreme Court (the Highest Judicial Court of India), after a fast-track hearing of 40 days, on November 9 unanimously declared the final judgment on an issue which has hundreds of years of history. The Supreme Court ordered the land (the site at Ayodhya city where the legal dispute was going on) to be handed over to a trust to build the Hindu temple and ordered the government to give an alternate five acres of land to the Sunni Waqf board (the Muslim claimant in the case) for the purpose of building a mosque.
The way this decades-old judicial process is concluded is exemplary, Prime Minister Narendra Modi called this verdict as “the beginning of a golden era for the judiciary of the country,” and appreciated the grit and determination of the Supreme Court of India.
A day after the Ayodhya verdict, National Security Advisor Ajit Doval held a meeting with the eminent Hindu and Muslim religious leaders of India, in which all participants expressed their respect and appreciation on the decision of the Supreme Court and extended their full cooperation to the Modi government for maintaining the fabric of the peace and harmony of the country. They all requested in one voice to the common citizens to abide by the rule of law and to keep the national interest above all considerations. Despite certain disagreements among the Muslims leaders on how to view this verdict, there is a common consensus from all sides to keep the peaceful atmosphere of the country intact. On the day of the verdict, India’s social media and digital platforms were floating with the messages of peace and togetherness.
“Unity in diversity” and finding unity in different forms is the central thought of the Indian culture. In his address to the nation on historic Ayodhya verdict, Modi has said: “the virtues for which India is known – unity in diversity; this spirit is clearly visible today. Even after thousands of years, if somebody wishes to understand India’s ethos of unity in diversity, today would be referred as a classic example.” Several socio-religious organizations and millions of people were waiting patiently from several years for this judgment to come but when the verdict arrived, the entire Hindu community of India decided to subdue their celebrations, and they expressed their joy with care to ensure that their celebration should not hurt the feelings of the other group, and the environment of the nation remain peaceful. By doing this they displayed an amazing strength of the ancient Indian culture, which emphasizes the idea of mutual co-existence.
On October 31, India celebrates the birth anniversary of the first Home and Deputy Prime Minister of India, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, and this day is called the Rashtriya Ekta Diwas (National Unity Day). Saradar Vallabhai Patel is called the great Unifier of India, as he did the herculean task of integrating more than 500 princely states into India. The way he channelized the magnetic strength of the unity is still a matter of research for the Western world, which has seen the political integration after massive violence taking place in their history. Sardar Patel had a strong belief that “unity of purpose, unity of endeavor and unity of aims” are essential for the stability of India.
THERE ARE different perspectives on courageous moves that PM Modi is taking in his second term of the government. The way the Modi government is resolving some of the most complex and historical issues of India, one after the other, while maintaining an environment of social cohesion, is unique in itself. Whether it is the issue of Triple talaq (Islamic divorce), the decision on the abrogation of Article 370 from Jammu and Kashmir, or the efforts toward resolving the Ayodhya issue through a fast-track judicial process, the confidence behind all these moves reflects that the inherent spirit of “unity in diversity” is becoming stronger in India.
In his previous term, Modi worked on the principle of “sabka sath, sabka vikas” (collective efforts, inclusive growth) and its results were remarkably reflected in his 2019 elections victory, but still, Modi did not stop there. Now from the second term, he added one more phrase into it called “sabka vishwas” (everyone’s trust) and now it is a source of inspiration for every function of the government.
A country of 1.3 billion people cannot agree on all or a single point, this is not possible in any country. But there always exist some common aspirations of the people, and when these aspirations become the base of government’s goals and when everyone in the country, irrespective of his religion, caste or creed can see that his or her aspirations have a space in the larger vision of the nation, this generates an unmatched sense of unity, and then the diversity does not become an obstacle to the progress, instead, it becomes the biggest strength.
Some of the landmark achievements of the previous term of the Modi government, like implementing the world’s biggest sanitation coverage drive by building 110 million toilets, running the world’s biggest healthcare scheme, which provides an annual free health cover of Rs. 500,000 to the 500 million people, the opening of more than 370 million bank accounts for the poor, electrifying even the remotest corners of the country, all these moves have made the sense of national unity more strong and its results are quite visible.
India, which constitutes one-sixth of humanity, believes in celebrating its vibrant diversity as part of the way of life, such celebrations are not easily seen anywhere in the world. Indian culture sees divinity in every being and there is a sense of unity for the entire creation. A common error which some Western thinkers do in understanding the happenings of the Indian society, is that they view everything from pure political or economic lenses, but to understand the soul of India, one needs to see it from the cultural perspective.
India is practicing the idea of “unity in diversity” for centuries because it is one of the key characteristics of Hindu philosophy. India has a unique philosophical flexibility that allows other traditions and culture to become a part of it without leaving their original identity. In an article series on “Jews of India,” the Jewish historian Raphael Meyer has rightly noted that “Perhaps the most unique aspect of the Indian Jewish experience is the complete absence of discrimination by a host majority. The secret of India’s tolerance is the Hindu belief which confers legitimacy on a wide diversity of cultural and religious groups.”
The writer promotes advanced technologies, start-up ecosystems and the Indian government’s business and technology-related initiatives like Digital India, Make in India, Smart Cities, Startup India, etc.