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BJP likely to spend Rs 245 Crore to develop Ramayana Circuit in Ayodhya

The development of the Ramayana circuit will take place under Centre’s Swadesh Darshan scheme

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Ram Paidi in Ayodhya. Image Source: Wikipedia.org
  • The development is expected to add fuel to the controversy surrounding the Ram Temple-Babri Masjid dispute
  • The development of Ramayana circuit will take place under Centre’s Swadesh Darshan scheme
  • The circuit would incorporate high-end audio-visual facility depicting the life of Lord Ram on water-screen video projection

In a bid to boost spiritual tourism, the Modi government is all set to spend about 245 crores to build a Ramayana circuit in and around Ayodhya.

The move that has become a political talking point has come in the wake of the elections in Uttar Pradesh,scheduled for next year, in 2017.

Along with Ayodhya, the tourism ministry has identified Nandigram, Shringverpur and Chitrakoot in the state where it will develop facilities highlighting the life of Lord Ram (manifestation of Lord Vishnu), displaying various religious proofs of events from his era.

The establishment is expected to add fuel to the controversy surrounding the Ram Temple-Babri Masjid dispute, an issue that has been dragged on in courts for decades now, but continues to stir controversy till date.

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Right-winged political parties and intransigent Hindu groups have long been demanding for a temple to be built at the site where activists demolished the 16th-century mosque in 1992.

Bharati Kashyap Sharma, the ministry of tourism’s assistant director general told Mail Today, “We have already identified these four cities with a primary focus on the ancient city of Ayodhya.”

She added, “The MoT will develop massive tourism infrastructure facilities around these religious destinations. We have also finalised the tentative cost for the project.”

India today quoting a source revealed that the detailed project report (DPR) was prepared in the last week of June and was also approved in-principle in Uttar Pradesh.

The development of the Ramayana circuit will take place under Centre’s Swadesh Darshan scheme. This scheme envisions the construction of theme based tourist circuits in the country.

Minister of Culture. Mahesh Sharma. Image Source: Indiatoday.in
Minister of Culture. Mahesh Sharma. Image Source: Indiatoday.in

The first meeting of the national panel on the circuit was led by tourism and culture minister Mahesh Sharma on June 14. The meeting also had tourism secretary Vinod Zutshi as well as related experts and other senior officials from the ministry in attendance.

According to a copy of the DPR, the Ramayana circuit will have 11 destinations spread across six states.

Apparently, areas such as Sitamarhi, Buxar and Darbhanga in Bihar, Jagdalpur in Chhattisgarh, Bhadrachalam in Telangana, Hampi in Karnataka and Rameswaram in Tamil Nadu are also expected to be added later.

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The circuit would incorporate high-end audio-visual facility depicting the life of Lord Ram on water-screen video projection. There would also be state-of-art outdoor seating arrangements or open-air theatre for the visitors. The latest technology will be used to create life-like images in order to make the circuit all the more appealing.

The Lord Ram gallery theme will depict his life primarily with 10 different episodes – Valmiki and Tulsi Ramayan, Bala Kanda, Ayodhya Kanda, Aranya Kanda, Kishkindha Kanda, Sundara Kanda, Lanka Kanda, Uttara Kanda, Lav-Kush Kanda and Ram Darbar.

Similarly, the entire Aranya Kanda (jungle where Ram, Laxman and Sita lived during exile) will depict the lives of three gods while displaying Sita’s rasoi (kitchen) apart from an AV creation of the golden deer being hunted by Lord Ram.

“The final attraction will be in the corridors where a mechanical ‘Pushpak Viman’ (flying vehicle in which Ravana kidnapped Sita) and Ravana will be shown fighting Jatayu. This will be depicted via wall-to-wall screens in the final section of the corridor,” quoted India Today from the project report.

-This report is modified by Bulbul, a staff-writer at NewsGram.

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  • Aparna Gupta

    Ayodhya temple is a part of our heritage. It need to be redeveloped to preserve our culture.

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Gujarat Elections: The Fight to the Finish between Congress and BJP

The counting of votes for the Gujarat elections will begin on December 18 at 8.00 AM

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The Gujarat elections have brought the BJP and the Congress in close contest with each other.
Women on their way to the polling booths in Gujarat on December 9, VOA News

 

  • The Gujarat elections have brought the BJP and the Congress into a close contest over the seats.
  • The exit polls predict a victory for BJP.
  • The counting of votes will begin at 8.00 A.M. on Monday, December 18.

The Gujarat elections, which were carried out in two phases on December 9 and December 14, will finally come to its culmination on Monday, December 18, as the counting of votes will commence from 8.00 A.M. The Gujarat polls, over which seasoned BJP politicians such as Narendra Modi and Amit Shah  have locked horns with the newly appointed president of the Congress, Rahul Gandhi, have been subjected to numerous speculations and predictions, ever since the two political parties have launched themselves into relentless campaigning for the various constituencies.

The Gujarat elections have brought the BJP and the Congress in close contest with each other.
Rahul Gandhi kissing his mother after being elected as the President of Congress on December 16, 2017, VOA News

Congress vs. BJP: Who will Win the Gujarat Elections

The campaign for the Gujarat assembly elections has been a vehement one for Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who has extensively referred to the growth index and other statistical details while enumerating the virtues of the BJP government. His developmental policies, such as the Ujjwala Yojana through which free LPG gas facilities were provide to households below the Poverty Line, have made him immensely popular among the women of Gujarat. Modi’s appeal as the ‘son of the soil’ has earned him support in the urban and commercial hubs of Gujarat, in spite of the brewing discontent over demonetisation and the imposition of GST. The BJP has also succeeded in securing the support of the tribal people of Gujarat, who were previously considered as a stronghold of the Congress.
However, with the trio of Hardik Patel, Alpesh Thakor and Jignesh Mevani, Rahul Gandhi seems to have infused young blood into the Gujarat elections, and has thereby attracted a significant number of young voters. Hardik Patel, with his political acumen has become a potential threat for the BJP, as multiple scandalous tapes of him as well as his aides have not decreased his popularity. In North, Gujarat, Saurashtra and Kutch, people seem to be disappointed with the BJP government, since the much-applauded ‘Gujarat Model’ has failed to solve basic issues in their lives, such as shortage of water.

 

The Gujarat elections have brought the BJP and the Congress in close contest with each other.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses the voters at Kalol, in the outskirts of Ahmedabad on December 8, 2017, VOA News

Gujarat Elections: The Exit Polls

The Gujarat Polls of 2017 have often been hailed as one of the closest competitions faced by the BJP government during its 22 year long tenure as speculations are rife regarding who will win the Gujarat elections. However, in spite of the unyielding campaign by the Congress and Rahul Gandhi, the speculations hint towards another victory for the BJP in the state. An aggregate of nine exit polls in Gujarat show that the BJP is expected to secure 162 seats, while 65 seats may be secured by the Congress.

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Ram Janmabhoobi : Why building a grand Ram Temple in Ayodhya is the only way to end ongoing dispute since centuries?

"Ram lalla hum aayenge, mandir wahin banayenge", why can't all communities come together and demand religious heritage of our motherland to be restored in Ayodhya?

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Ram Mandir Ayodhya
Ram Mandir Ayodhya (Graphical Representation)
  • The land on which the Babri mosque was built in 1528 is the ‘Ram Janmabhoomi’ (birthplace of Bhagwan Rama). The existing Ram Mandir Ayodhya was destroyed by Mughal King Babur’s general Mir Baqi and subsequently a mosque called Babri Masjid was built at the site.

    It has been 25 years since the disputed Babri Masjid structure was demolished by Kar sevaks but no government so far could start Ram Mandir construction. In the 1980s, the Vishav Hindu Parishad (VHP) began a campaign for the construction of Ram Mandir Ayodhya dedicated to Bhagwan Rama at the site, with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) as its political voice. Many rallies and marches were held as a part of this movement, including the famous Ram Rath Yatra led by Shri. Lal Krishna Advani.

Demolition of disputed Babri Masjid

On 6 December 1992, the Rashtriya Swayemsevak Sangh (RSS), Vishav Hindu Parishad (VHP), Shiv Sena and its affiliates organised a rally involving 150,000 kar sevaks at the site of the disputed Babri Masjid. The ceremonies included speeches by BJP leaders such as Lal Krishna Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi and Uma Bharti. At 11am, the first group of kar sevaks broke through the barricades. It was 1.55pm, when the first dome of the Babri Masjid met the ground, along with about 25 kar sevaks. At 3.30pm, the second dome came down. The central dome is demolished at 4.49pm. In about six hours, all that remained of the Babri Masjid, was demolished. After news of the Babri Masjid demolition broke in world, riots erupted all across the country. Even the neighbouring countries were affected as Hindus were slaughtered in Pakistan and Bangladesh. Mumbai experienced one of the worst incidents of communal violence in the history of modern India. In March 1993, a series of bomb blasts happened in Mumbai killing hundreds, this was the way of Islamists to retaliate against Babri Masjid demolition.

Ram Mandir Ayodhya
A day after the demolition of the Babri Masjid on December 6, 1992, a makeshift Ram temple was hastily put in place. Here, a paramilitary soldier is seen offering his prayers at this temple on December 7, 1992. Credit: T. Narayan

Archaeological Survey of India & Historical Surveys

In 1767, Jesuit priest Joseph Tieffenthaler recorded Hindus worshiping and celebrating Ramnavmi at the site of the disputed Babri Masjid. In 1788, Tieffenthaler’s French works were published in Paris, the first to suggest that the Babri Masjid was built on the birthplace of Rama.

The Archaeological Survey of India has reported to the high court that its excavations found distinctive features of a 10th century temple beneath the Babri Mosque site. The report revealed that there was archaeological evidence of a massive Ram Mandir just below the disputed structure and evidence of continuity in structural activities from the 10th century onwards up to the construction of the disputed structure (Babri Masjid). Among the excavation yields ASI report mentioned were stone and decorated bricks, mutilated sculpture of divine couple, carved architectural members including foliage patterns, amalaka, kapotapali, doorjamb with semi-circular shrine pilaster, broken octagonal shaft of black schist pillar, lotus motif, circular shrine having pranjala (watershute) in the north and 50 pillar bases in association with a huge Ram Mandir structure. The ASI report said there is sufficient proof of existence of a massive and monumental structure having a minimum dimension of 50×30 metres in north-south and east-west directions respectively just below the disputed structure. The ASI report said the human activity at the site dates back to 13th century BC on the basis of the scientific dating method providing the only archaeological evidence of such an early date of the occupation of the site. The report concluded that it was over the top of this construction during the early 16th century that the disputed structure was constructed directly resting over it. So, there was no confusion that the Babri Masjid was built over after demolishing Ram Mandir Ayodhya.

Ram Mandir Ayodhya
Veteren VHP leader Late Ashok Singhal injured during Ram Janmbhoomi movement

The Million Dollar question : Why Ram Mandir Ayodhya?

India’s independence did not bring about the long sought for return of Rama Rajya and the light of dharma that the independence movement aspired to. The continuation of the darkness of adharma shifted from colonial rule to a new self-imposed and self-perpetuated colonial type exploitation by an arrogant socialist elite who had little understanding or appreciation of their own culture. – Dr David Frawley

Ram Mandir Ayodhya is not anti-muslim sentiment for Hindus, its rather an emotional connect with divine. What Muslims should understand is that, Ram Mandir Ayodhya to Hindus is what Mecca to them, or what Vatican is to Christians. It has been decades of dispute and political parties has been using the dispute to fuel their politics. but its high time both Hindus and Muslims should come together for Ram Mandir Ayodhya. Its not a matter of win or lose, it is a matter of national pride. Ram, is the soul of India and Ram-Rajya is what we should aspire for. Hindu community is not the one who keep historical grudge, Muslim rulers demolished over 44000 Temples (as per Known History, actual Figures be More), but Hindus are demanding only few of their holiest sites, in no condition Hindus should compromise of highest order in this country. Meanwhile, Indian Muslims are facing the situation today which Kauravs faced in Mahabharta when Pandavs requested them for just four Villages and asked them to Keep rest of the Kingdom. But Kauravs denied, which led to the bloodiest Dharam-Yudh in history of mankind. Babar built the Mosque by demolishing Ram Mandir, the ASI report ended the debate by confirming the existence of Ram Mandir.  It is really ridiculous that we have to beg to restore Ram Mandir at one of Hinduism’s greatest sites. A grander mosque can be made nearby as proposed, or even right next door. Isn’t that a reasonable appeal Muslim community should accept and give a message of communal harmony? I have no doubt that majority of the Muslims of this country will accept it, only those who have their sinister political agenda will oppose Ram Mandir to create communal tensions. Ram Mandir can be a symbol of harmony between the two important religious communities of India. Restoring one temple as it is holy site of Lord Ram’s birthplace and shifting mosque to a nearby location (and making it grander) will not demean the glory of Islam in any manner.

  • Even The Shia Central Waqf Board has offered a new solution to the Babri Masjid-Ram Janmabhoomi conflict in Ayodhya. According to the proposal of the board, a Ram temple can be built in Ayodhya while a mosque can be constructed in Lucknow.

As Dr. David Frawley says,”Time to return Ayodhya back to the Hindus and allow Ram Mandir to come up. All Hindus feel importance of Ram Janmabhoomi. The region does not figure among any important sacred sites of Islam. Time for India to honor its own heritage, heroes and avatars.”

That day will really be exemplary for world when all communities in India will come together for a grand Ram Mandir Ayodhya, and I am sure that day will soon come. We must overcome our past for a glorious future. Lastly I will like to remember words of famous Muslim poet Allama Iqbal, “है राम के वजूद पे हिन्दोस्ताँ को नाज़, अहले-नज़र समझते हैं उसको इमामे-हिन्द ।”

– by SHAURYA RITWIK, Shaurya is Sub-Editor at NewsGram and writes on Geo-politcs, Culture, Indology and Business. Twitter Handle – @shauryaritwik

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Surajpal Singh Amu: A case of Fatwa by Hindus?

BJP's Surajpal Singh Amu announced a reward roughly equivalent to $1.5 million to anyone who would behead Deepika Padukone and the film director Sanjay Leela Bhansali.

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Padmavati Banner
A man signs a banner during a signature campaign as part of a protest against the release of Bollywood movie "Padmavati" in Kolkata, India, Nov. 22, 2017. VOA

A leader of India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has announced that he would pay a reward roughly equivalent to $1.5 million to anyone who would behead an Indian actress and a film director.

Surajpal Singh Amu, a member of the BJP in northern Haryana state, is apparently upset about an upcoming movie, Padmavati, starring actress Deepika Padukone as the 14th-century Hindu queen Padmini.

The movie is directed by Sanjay Leela Bhansali.

Amu alleged that the movie is misleading, not based on truth and offends Hindu sentiments in the country.

FILE - Actress Deepika Padukone and director Sanjay Leela Bhansali attend the opening of the 13th annual Marrakech International Film Festival in Marrakech, Nov. 29, 2013.
FILE – Actress Deepika Padukone and director Sanjay Leela Bhansali attend the opening of the 13th annual Marrakech International Film Festival in Marrakech, Nov. 29, 2013. VOA

“We will reward the ones beheading them, with 10 crore rupees, and also take care of their family’s needs,” Amu said in an interview with India’s Asia’s Premier News (ANI) earlier this week.

Threats against movie

Amu also vowed not to allow the release of the movie and warned movie theaters to avoid playing the movie or risk being torched.

The movie was set to be released during the first week of December.

Rights activists have reacted strongly to the threats and urged the government to take action.

“This is pretty outrageous that you announce publicly and no action takes place at a time when people are being arrested for most trivial reasons in this country,” Gotum Naulakha, an Indian-based civil liberties activist, told VOA.

A security guard walks past a poster of the upcoming Bollywood movie "Padmavati" outside a theater in Mumbai, India, Nov. 21, 2017.
A security guard walks past a poster of the upcoming Bollywood movie “Padmavati” outside a theater in Mumbai, India, Nov. 21, 2017. VOA

An official complaint has been registered against Amu, but many are criticizing the stance of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party — which controls the central government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi — on the matter.

“I’ve not heard any official stance from the central government or the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting,” Vinod Sharma, an Indian-based analyst, told VOA.

Anil Jain, a local BJP spokesperson, told ANI that the law applies to everyone in the state of Haryana and no one can threaten others. The central government has yet to react, however.

Bollywood actress Padukone stood her ground and said the movie would be released despite the threats.

“Where have we reached as a nation? We have regressed. The only people we are answerable to is the censor board, and I know and I believe that nothing can stop the release of this film,” Padukone told Indo-Asian News Service (IANS) last week.

Controversy

Padmavati was controversial right from the start. Opponents of the movie stormed the filming of one scene and destroyed the film sets. They were upset that the director of the movie was distorting facts by alleging romance between the Hindu queen and the Muslim invader Alauddin Khilji.

Film director Bhansali, however, denies the allegations and maintains the story is based on a Sufi and medieval-era poem written about the Hindu queen. In the poem, the Hindu queen chooses death before the Muslim conqueror could capture her.

Some experts say the poem is centuries old and there is a possibility the Hindu queen might be purely a fictional character found only in folklore.

“There’s a lot of debate in India whether Padmavati was actually a living being many, many years ago or whether she was just an imagined person in a poem,” analyst Sharma said.

Rights activists maintain that if government fails to draw clear lines around the threat made by the politician, and discourage a growing sense of impunity for some, incidents like this will only increase and threaten the freedom of expression in the world’s biggest democracy.

“By letting loose and giving [a] sense of impunity to the goons of the ruling party or people who’re connected or close to the ruling party, we’re paving the ground for much bigger and [worse] things to happen in the near future,” Naulakha told VOA.

The movie is awaiting approval from India’s Central Board of Film Certification.

Written by Madeeha Anwar of VOA.