Crossing the Bridge

Posted 9/9/2019

Like every other Hindu, I too had read Ramayan in my early childhood. In its climax, victory of Ram (good) over Ravan (evil) is depicted. A war between the two was due to be fought in Lanka, which was safely surrounded by deep sea. So Ram and his supporters decided that only way to go across to Lankan coast is by constructing a path on water. So they made a long bridge by dropping large stones in the water. The feat is believed to be brain child and accomplishment of Lord Hanuman and his fabled monkey army. Ram’s army crossed over to Lanka, Ravan got his punishment and Seeta was released. Aptly the bridge was named, ‘Ram Setu’.

Due to mythological beliefs Hindus have always known Ram Setu to be an integral part of their religious and reverent life. The bridge helped Ram emerge victorious. Even if there are no historical proofs to Ram Janmabhoomi or Ram Setu, they have always existed in the psyche of people of this originally Hindu land.
As I became a little older I became more and more aware of logical possibilities in various mythological stories. I realized it is humanly impossible to throw so many stones in sea to make a nearly 50 mile long path. I am not sure if any other minds shared that belief. But a surprise came in the form of a satellite image from NASA, which showed a clear connection running between southern tip of India and north of Sri Lanka. Internationally it is called as Adam’s Bridge. Image also titled the picture as an ancient bridge. I was impressed and felt reassured that Ram may have actually existed…

2007. For so many years cargo ships have been circling around Sri Lanka to move east to west or vice versa. Present secular government wants to create a breach in Ram Setu, so that the shipping industry can save valuable time and fuel. Fair enough. But why did the political temperatures rose so dramatically between ruling and opposition parties. The ruling party may have to do a very unenviable task of tendering an apology to nation!
Well, if I were to take charge of this project, i.e. getting a shipping passage opened in Ram Setu, first of all I would go to the shipping industry itself and meet the companies that actually operate in those waters. I would confirm with them if a break in Ram Setu is made, will it really make a difference of, ‘worth it’ kind. If they say that it will matter a lot in terms of saving fuel and time, I would like to take hard copies of their claims.
Then I will move to the next phase of comparing ‘project cost’ with long term ‘savings’. Engineering contractors and financial analysts will help me with the most important part called, ‘feasibility’.
Next a meeting with social scientists will tell me if the project will affect the life or livelihood of local fisher folks during construction. What will be the permanent damages after the breach is made. Due to regular traffic of ships, concerns, if any of neighboring country too will have to be addressed.
I don’t think anyone has thought about it, but that tip of Sri Lanka is not a very peaceful place to be, thanks to LTTE activities. A mini war is permanently waging, in that part of Indian Ocean. It may give LTTE opportunities to hijack ships for their much needed fund in ransom. I am sure India is not planning to start a parallel industry for their benefit…
After this, a meeting will be scheduled with leading environmental scientists of India and abroad. I will certainly have to focus on experts in ocean sciences too. After all, our planet is becoming more and more fragile due to our greed. Ecology is not being allowed to stabilize. Remember, ‘earth can support us in what we need but not our greed?’
I would put forth the project in front of them and request them to give me their feedback. They would be given a grant and a time frame. They will report to me every detail worth knowing, on the future of this project.
It is possible that much before the stipulated time frame they will stumble upon some glaring facts that will stall this project even before it takes off. Their study might reveal that, it is a total ‘no no’ to touch the formation of those islands. For example they may find that this formation supports a lot of sea life and also helps in checking the strength of Tsunami heading towards Indian or Sri Lankan coast. With this the project ends right there, a lot of public money is saved and nation is spared the political bad breath.
In another scene, there may be no such results and the team has to go through the whole grind, finally presenting a positive scenario. The team would present me with a spiral bound file containing technical data of their study. It will contain ‘hows and whys’ and ‘dos and don’ts’ of Ram Setu project.
This would be the right time to swing into action with another important kind of meetings. This time I would meet experts of Hinduism, like Shankaracharya and other learned Gurus, who have earned respect in the society for their views and authority on the subject. I would plead, ‘we are not getting rid of Ram Setu entirely; it is only a matter of creating a small break for the ships to sail through to save earth’s depleting natural resources.’
Now it seems that we may be on winning grounds.
Country’s current CEOs acted much before their due thinking period was over. The plans on Ram Setu seem totally unreasonable if the Hindu is not taken into confidence or at least informed about it. But had the Hindu been informed, you will be surprised; he would not mind. Hindu basically has the most tolerant and reasonable mind on this planet. A Hindu will bend backwards to accommodate a project that saves resources of the earth. For him Ram is a god with goodness personified, but ‘earth’ is a living goddess and a mother.
End Piece 1: We all know that launching of every public interest project results in a lot of bulging pockets. No project has ever started, unless the size of bulge was formalized. Bigger the project, bigger the bulge. But in the process if India too gains a little, she does not mind. Has she ever done it earlier?
End Piece 2: In my opinion Ram Setu is way older than Ram. It is natural and not man made. So I would imagine that Ram’s army did a survey on the sea front and found that the elevated parts would be ideal for crossing if raised a bit more. They also waited for the low tide to run across.
End Piece 3: There was a time when a bridge was desperately needed to go across the sea; there will be a time when sea must be breached for going across the bridge.

(First posted 19 September, 2007)