Monday December 16, 2019

Ramayana trail: How Modi government plans to revive the legacy of Lord Ram

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Modi Sri Lanka

By Harshmeet Singh

Prime Minister Modi concluded his three nation tour after making a slew of agreements and announcements in Sri Lanka. While moves such as handing over more than 27,000 homes to the war affected people in Jaffna and an assistance of $318 million gathered much attention, his announcement regarding Indian Government’s plans to establish a Ramayana trail in Sri Lanka went away unnoticed.  

Ramayana Trail

The establishment of a Ramayana trail is aimed at developing all the Ramayana related mythological spots in the country. Though the PM fell short of announcing any budget or a deadline for the same, he did mention that his Government would soon be sending a team of experts to Sri Lanka to visit all such places that can be included under this plan.

The government plans to develop a number of modern facilities around these spots to ensure a constant tourists’ influx which, in turn, would take India’s heritage to different parts of the world. The PM also said that his Government would be happy to assist Sri Lanka in developing a similar Buddha trail in India.

Common history of India & Sri Lanka

The extremely rich Buddhist culture of Sri Lanka derives its roots from ancient India. According to ancient texts of Sri Lanka, it was Indian Emperor Ashoka’s son, Mahinda, who introduced Buddhism to Sri Lanka. Impressed by the message of Buddhism carried by Mahinda, the Monarch propagated Buddhist values to the entire Sinhalese population of the island. The historic Nalanda University also had a number of Sri Lankan Buddhist monks on roll before it was brought to the ground by Mohammed Kilji. Notably, around 70% Sri Lankans still follow Theravada Buddhism.

The Indian epic Ramayana gives a detailed description of the island nation. According to Ramayana, the island was built by Vishwakarma as a gift for Kubera, the Wealth Lord. Kubera was later overthrown by his stepbrother, Ravana. The story of Sita’s abduction at the hands of Ravana is one of the best known folklores around the world. The ‘Ram Setu’ or the ‘Adam’s bridge’, believed to be built by Lord Rama to take his army to Lanka to fight Ravana still remains one of the most significant common heritage points between India and Sri Lanka.

Ram Setu

Historically, the Indian railway network extended up to Dhanushkodi (south of Chennai) from where frequent ferry rides took the passengers to the Mannar Island in Sri Lanka. The ferry used to travel over the submerged Adam’s Bridge. A devastating cyclone in 1964 destroyed the railway facilities at Dhanushkodi which were never resurrected after that. This put an end to the ferry rides between Dhanushkodi and Mannar Island.

The shallow water over the Adam’s bridge doesn’t allow large cargo chips to pass through it. Hence, the large ships coming either from Arabian Sea or Bay of Bengal are needed to travel around Sri Lanka to reach the other side. The construction of a canal through the ‘Ram Setu’ to ease out the marine traffic has been proposed multiple times, with the most recent project being ‘Sethusamudram Shipping Canal Project’. Quite understandably, these plans didn’t go well with a number of religious groups who, presenting evidence from NASA’s satellite images, claim that this bridge was built by Lord Rama and has a high religious significance attached to it. Notably, the efforts to build this canal have also received thumbs down from a number of environmental experts who doubt the feasibility of such plans and claim that this could destroy the corals.

 Growing bonhomie through tourism?

A number of experts have lauded Modi’s methods of warming up to the neighbouring nations by giving references to our common heritage. As seen with many nations, tourism and common heritage can help the nations come together and solve a number of grave issues. Let’s hope the story between India and Sri Lanka goes the same way.

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PM Modi Advises Scientists To Use Science to Improve Lives

PM Narendra Modi tells Scientists to use science to improve the lives of citizens

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Modi advises Scientists
Prime Minister Modi tells scientists that science and technology should be used to bettering the lives of citizens. Wikimedia Commons

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday called upon scientists to take up challenges in their research for bettering the daily lives of common citizens, especially farmers, help in reaching clean drinking water, solar power to the people, and solving problems such as pollution.

Highlighting the importance of ‘science for society’, Modi said when all “scientists, all citizens, will move forward with this understanding, both the country and mankind will be benefited”.

“To know the connection between science and society, we have to give answers to some questions. Everybody knows the pollution problem due to increased use of plastic. Can our scientists take up the challenge to come up with saleable and cost effective material which can take the place of plastic?” the Prime Minister asked while inaugurating the India International Science Festival through video conferencing from Delhi.

Indian PM Narendra Modi
PM Narendra Modi highlights the importance of ‘Science for Society’. Wikimedia Commons

Modi exhorted scientists assembled from India and abroad for the mega event whether they can take up the challenge to find a better way to store energy or electricity.

“Can we get a solution so that the use of solar power can go up, can we come up with an innovation related to battery and other infrastructure to reach electric mobility to the common man?

“Have we thought of doing something in our lab which can improve the lives of crores of people? Can we find a solution to local drinking water problems and reach clean drinking water to the people?” he asked.

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Modi also urged scientists to ponder over whether they can invent something which would cut down healthcare cost, and benefit peasants by increasing their income.

“We have to think how use of science can help in easing the lives of the people,” he said. (IANS)