Sept 30th, 2010: Sitting inside the newsroom of a TV channel, watching the drama of India's biggest and longest legal battle unfolds, I watched with certain calmness the maturity that I see in Indians as they accept the Allahabad High Court verdict on the disputed site in Ayodhya. As details come out of the court room and legal purists and analysts dissect the complicated judgment, most countrymen get on with the usual business of life.
Dec 4th - 7th, 1992: As a cub reporter with a monthly magazine in Delhi, my first job immediately after college, I am asked to leave for Ayodhya/Lucknow along with a senior colleague to cover an event, which was to change the political contours of the country once and for all.
With the Allahabad high court verdict pronouncing the judgment, the ghost of those fateful four days came reeling back into memory. Having taken an overnight train to Lucknow without reservation, we woke up very tired and hungry. A quick breakfast at home (Lucknow happens to be my hometown) and off we was to Ayodhya. Deserted streets, car tyres burning all along the highway to spread scare, people on two wheelers with orange coloured bandanas greeted us with hysterical 'jai sai ram ' and 'mandir wahin banayenge' slogans. For me it was all a blood gushing experience. Fresh from college in Delhi, the sight of angry youngsters in the countryside in UP behaving as if their life depended upon how events will unfold in Ayodhya the next day was a bit unnerving. Once in Ayodhya the hysteria was evident. I had never seen such a huge mass of humans. And I had never even seen such an ocean of mankind committed to spreading panic and scare.
As kar sewaks spread themselves like serpents across what now are the remains of the Babri Masjid, the political and social fabric of the country was being rewritten. There were no cellphones those days, photographers used the MTNL fax lines to send their photographs to their newspaper offices. Unlike today when everything reaches our living rooms in a flash through 24 hour news channels, back in 1992, it took a day for the country to see the pictures of the mayhem. The young, most of them unemployed, celebrated what they mistakenly called the correction of a historical mistake. It was mob fury at its worst. The mob behaved as if possessed by an evil. For the ordinary, its was like stuck in the middle of a natural calamity. The state and the instigators stood helpless as events went beyond the unimaginable.
Both in Ayodhya and in Lucknow, or for that matter in many parts of the country there were people who were shamefully gloating. Getting on with their life was not the priority...celebrating madness was. For the young it was easy to get swayed by emotions. It did not take too much of an effort for the evil mind to show the darker path to the young, and I have no shame in saying most of the foot soldiers of the demolition and of events later were unemployed.
Two decades later the calmness and maturity that I see in the young of today is celebratory. The advancement that India has made too is celebratory. The clock has completed many circles. The young of 1992 have touched or are close to touching middle age. The middle aged have become senior citizens. Toddlers have become adults who now participate in the decision making process of the country. Bachelors have become parents, parents have become grand parents. Time has moved on. The country has moved ahead. Most 18 plus youngsters have work to keep them busy.
The key is to grow and keep growing.
Today, we abound with employment opportunities. Straight out of college getting a job is not a major issue. The number of higher educational institutions have increased manifold. Economy is robust. The world is looking upon us. We are on our way to becoming a superpower. India has marched on. Let the march continue and not be halted again by blunders of our own making. Let's not waste our time. No point dissecting and getting provoked by the judgment. Right or wrong, a judgment has come and unlike in a 'Banana Republic', India has to accept the verdict of a Court of law.
The political class of today has got a clear message...Led by the youth in our countryside. My god resides in my heart...nowhere else. Fights over a place of worship are not a bother. Let's accept the High court judgment and move on. I would add one more line here...Let's move on and enjoy the commonwealth games...Cheer for India!