Home > India, Life > The lighter side of the Ayodhya verdict

The lighter side of the Ayodhya verdict

A billion-plus people awaited the verdict of a nondescript court in a nondescript town in India; the events leading up to this day are best described by the mainstream media (here).   The verdict appears to have been  well received, for now anyway, which allows me to reflect on the lighter side of what has otherwise been a solemn and stressful day.

  1. This was India’s OJ moment – the similarities were striking: the entire country was glued to TV sets awaiting the judiciary to decide on a very divisive issue.    In both cases, governments feared riots along race/religious lines.  Indians have been spared the months of mind-numbing televised testimony by the likes of OJ’s house guests but talking heads on news starved cable channels have delivered similar doses of irrelevance for years.
  2. Chaos prevailed but was benign: The verdict was supposed to be delivered in an orderly manner.  It was to be posted on a website and then lawyers for all sides were to hold a press conference.  Unfortunately, all hell broke loose as the lawyers got their hands on the verdict and proceeded to speak over each other in display of grandstanding I have never seen before.  The press corps gave up all pretence of decorum and stormed the speakers’ dais.  Pandemonium prevailed while the country was trying to make sense of people speaking over each other in several languages and waving print-outs of the verdict at TV cameras.  Luckily, the chaos did not spill out on to the streets.   The scenes on TV reminded me of the rush to get in to and  out of airplanes, buses and trains that I see every time I travel in India.
  3. Language was the sole casualty: As the various vested interests jostled for air time on obliging TV channels, they chose to vent in Hindi that was so good (but archaic) that I could not understand it.  A number of them tried to speak in very bad English, which made me cringe (recall my post on English skills in India).    But the line that made my day was uttered by the lead counsel for one of the parties  – “this (sic)  is where Ram Lulla is virajmaan” – which is an unusual insertion of archaic Hindi words in English.

The luxury of focusing on the lighter side of events today bears testimony to the resilience of the secular fibres that hold this country together and I hope they will continue to prevail.

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